Investigations into the art object and its relationship with body and space was the central focus of artists like Gego, Jesús Soto and Roberto Matta. Through the grid, an abstract structure and emblematic form of modernity and modern urbanism, they analysed the organisation of the environment as if it were a system, placing the stress on an expansion of the gaze, displacing it from the centre and discovering a network of relationships in its different nodes. Moreover, their pieces incorporated the spectator’s body and architecture into the space of the work.
Neo-avant-garde movements surfaced in the second half of the 1940s in Argentina (with the Madí group and the Concrete Art-Invention Association) and in Brazil (Concretism and Neo-concretism) and Venezuela (Kinetic Art) in the 1950s. Although they explored the potential of abstraction, most notably through the legacy of Piet Mondrian, the grid was also a common concept that was challenged.
These works set out to visualise the structure of spaces, stressing their modes of construction and consensus. They drew on formal or architectural repertoires prior to modernity and broke away from the functionalist relationship of the inside/outside, as observed in the works of Gego, Soto and Matta — while their grids unearthed structures of geometric origins, their rhythms deconstructed the compact, isolated space of rationalism.
In transforming the grid into language, Matta incorporated in his Entretiens Morphologiques (1936-1944) a “schizoid” structure, creating from the sensorial and the oneiric, whereas Gego’s references originated from Constructivism. The Reticulareas she developed from 1969 are transparent nets which weave together three-dimensional systems, expanded in space, and are situated closer to the deconstruction of language in signs — more typical of concrete poetry — than Jesús Soto’s kinetic art. The subsequent streams, nets and meshes (present in the room) act similarly to open up the space and invite viewers to relate to them.