Thursday Salute to Originals: The Horse Problem

Man meets animal in an awe-striking statue depicting a horse “frozen in time” and the young lady who happened to stumble upon it. Displayed in the Venice Biennale’s Argentinean Pavilion, this is a masterpiece that is simple in form but heavy in symbolism. The statue, which is called The Horse Problem by Claudia Fontes, resides in the Biennale’s arsenal building – which happens to be the largest pre-industrial production center of the world.

The oversized horse is being gently caressed by a young girl while 400 white rocks lay scattered around the two central figures. The Horse Problem was partially a reimagination of the icons from the painting The Return of the Indian Raid (above), a famous painting from 1892 depicting a horseback attack on indigenous populations that shaped Argentina’s reputation on the worldwide stage. The modern counterpart, The Horse Problem, conveys a political aspect that is said to recreate the history of Argentina in an alternate perspective – one that returns the power and action back to the girl and horse figure, releasing them from the passive captivity of the historical painting.

But Fontes’ goal in creating this piece wasn’t simply to mimic the subject of a classic painting. Rather, this piece was intended to convey the vast transformations Argentina has undergone throughout history, with a particular focus on the exploitation of  horses rampant in Argentina’s past. The horse here is tensely frozen in time, symbolizing breaking free from domination and control. And the centuries-old building made via “horse power”  housing the stunning sculpture adds a subtly fitting – and ironic – tie to the subject matter.

This week we salute Claudia Fontes for utilizing art and history in an honest refresh of Argentina’s murky past. Through both physical structure and subtle political undertone, the powerful message of this piece is seen and heard, loud and clear.

Sources: Claudia Fontes, My Modern MetThis is Colossal, Bellas Artes