Born in Buenos Aries in 1919, Sarah Grilo moved to Europe in the 1940s, living in both Spain and France. Grilo’s eventual return to Buenos Aires in 1952 marked a definitive point of departure for the evolution of her visual language. In a foreshadowing 1954 interview, Grilo responded to the question of what to her was most fundamental to painting, stating “painting must be a manifestation of its current time, it holds the greatest potential of expressive power [and, more importantly,] it was the responsibility of each new generation of artists to disrupt” what was created by their predecessors. Grilo effectively abandoned traditional, figurative academic norms to create a unique dialect of Abstraction.
Grilo immediately relocated to New York City upon receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1961, finding Abstraction Expressionism as the prevailing darling of the New York art world. However, she would set her paintings apart from fellow contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Lee Krasner. Drawing upon the intense and vibrant energy of New York City’s streets, Grilo appropriated the loose sensibility of the dense and wild graffiti found across building facades and subway cars along with the refined qualities of graphic typographic print letters on street posters. The group of paintings that emerged from Grilo’s urban surroundings “anticipated” the later generations of New York street artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Painted in 1978, Sin titulo is exemplary of Sarah Grilo’s fully mature style and stands as a manifestation of her rigorous technique and energetic pictorial lexicon. Her new pictorial language abandoned the “pure” and conventional abstract expressionist cannon of spontaneous “action painting”, and instead offers a refined and highly personal system of pictograms and symbols (The Estate of Sarah Grilo, Biography, 2019, n.p.). Here, Grilo superimposes seemingly wild lines against seemingly sporadically placed type-print font made harmonious by dominant, monochrome color tone (blue in this instance).
Sarah Grilo’s works have been exhibited widely across the United States, Europe and South America including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Nelson Rockefeller Collection, New York, The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, among others.
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