Argentinian with a vision earns a space of his own


An installation from artist Santiago Cucullu is being featured in conjunction with “TRANSactions.” Commissioned specifically for the La Jolla museum, the exhibit is composed of murals, sculpture and watercolors. Cucullu’s wall installation showcases the impact, diversity and talent of today’s Latin American artists.

Entitled “Leave Me Never, or Serious Delirium Part 2: The Cop Within,” the installation was designed specifically for the walls of the museum’s Foster and Krichman Family Galleries. Roughly L-shaped, the walls of the two rooms are interspersed with windows, stairs and entryways. Cucullu was invited to create an exhibit that made use of the unique layout.

“Our museum has a nice history of doing temporary, site-specific pieces with the artists,” curator Stephanie Hanor said. “It’s an opportunity to push it in a different architectural space. Everything that’s in this show is very consistent with what he does.”

Such displays are exciting for both the artist and the audience, Hanor said. Working in a new environment, the artist can experiment with the structure and environment. Viewers get to experience art that is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“When I invited him, I made sure he knew what the context was for the show,” Hanor said. “The parameters were mostly just using this space. This particular installment will be a combination of wall drawings and sculpture.”

The murals consist of layers of different-colored contact paper onto which images have been projected and then cut out. The sculptures will be constructed from aluminum tubing, wooden tables and airplane blankets, among other materials. Cucullu visited the space months before the exhibit began in order to begin his creative process.

A continuation to an exhibit he did in Seattle, Cucullu’s new installation incorporates imagery from the movie, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” as well as personal experiences and memories. Local influences, such as the deceptive, calm heaviness that masks the danger of the ocean, are also reflected in the work, he said.

Cucullu describes his sculptures as drawings in space. There is no set form.

“I look at it as an investigation of painting,” Cucullu said. “I try to imagine painting from another perspective.”

Cucullu said each of his site-specific installations are a unique creation.

“They can be repeated with instructions, but they’ll never be the same,” Cucullu said.

Among those assisting in the preparation of the space and construction of the exhibit were Tom DeMello and Jeremy Woodall, artists from San Diego.

DeMello was tasked with cutting out figures and shapes on the colored vinyl squares applied to the gallery wall. He traced along thin black lines with an Exacto knife.

“It’s really interesting how you get caught up in doing it,” DeMello said. “It’s kind of meditative.”

Woodall helped with painting and applying the vinyl panels in anticipation of Cucullu’s design.

“It’s been exciting,” he said. “They had me start the prep work before Santiago came in. The parameters were pretty open.”

Born in Argentina, Cucullu now lives and works in Milwaukee. He holds a master’s of fine art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. His work has shown in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally since 1995.

“Leave Me Never, or Serious Delirium Part 2: The Cop Within” will be on display at the museum until May 13, 2007.

Call the museum at (858) 454-3541.