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Filling in the Details: Mondongo & “Polyptych of Buenos Aires” December 29, 2017

By Kerry Ingram
Tags: latin-american-art, homemfah, homeso-different-so-appealing, mondongo, manuel-mendanha, juliana-laffitte, jan-and-hubert-van-eyck, ghent-altarpiece, video

One of the artworks you might find yourself spending the most time studying in the exhibition HOME—So Different, So Appealing is Polyptych of Buenos Aires by Mondongo, a collective of Argentinean artists.

Houston audiences may remember the group’s work from the similarly intricate Calavera 4 previously on view in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries. Polyptych of Buenos Aires also features many carefully modeled details, this time in a monumental display evoking traditional European altarpieces—particularly the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan and Hubert van Eyck.

Jan and Hubert van Eyck, The Ghent Altarpiece
Jan and Hubert van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece, 1432, oil on wood, Saint Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium.

Whereas the Ghent Altarpiece depicts the city of God above, and the world of men below, Polyptych of Buenos Aires features a stock-market chart dotting the sky above Villa 31, a vast shantytown that surrounds the main train station in Buenos Aires. Villa 31 is located close to the city’s financial district and “just 10 blocks from the opera,” Mondongo member Manuel Mendanha notes.

Juliana Laffitte, another member of the collective, grew up near the shantytown. Both artists say it is important to them to show how people live in their home country, because nearly a third of Argentina’s population falls under the poverty line.

Watch the artists discuss their work in a Facebook Live video, and hit “play” below for a closer look at Polyptych of Buenos Aires.


See more in “HOME—So Different, So Appealing,” on view in the Law Building through January 21.