In Uruguay, a stone’s throw from the ocean, Casa Neptuna, with its playful geometric lines, is the new must-see art venue in Latin America. The building is already emblematic and bears the signature of Argentine artist Edgardo Giménez.
Casa Neptuna has much more to offer than remarkable architecture: in this building located in José Ignacio, Uruguay, colour and the play of forms are the star attraction, accompanied by the breath of the Atlantic Ocean and the indigenous forest. It was designed by the Argentine artist Edgardo Giménez to house the artistic residencies promoted by the Fundación Ama Amoedo. From the outside, Casa Neptuna immediately stands out for its peculiar structure and its bright colours, which seem to have been borrowed from the palette of a pop artist: green, yellow, pink and blue counterbalance the dynamic and extravagant volumes. On the other hand, as the Argentinian Edgardo Giménez – who made his debut on the art scene in the 1960s – points out, this residence was created to “stimulate creative thinking“. Designed as a living and working space, it is above all a laboratory for ideas and experimentation. But not only that. “Here, you can finally feel free to be creative. For me, joy and play are essential aspects of art,” says Edgardo Giménez. Casa Neptuna is based on the foundations of an existing building, on which the artist focused his vision. He then transformed it into a special place, an emblematic piece of architecture, with spacious and bright interiors and very white walls, like those of a modern white cube.
Art and passion, the story of an idea
Collector and philanthropist Amalia Amoedo, creator of the foundation that bears her name, wanted Casa Neptuna to be built in a place that has become a reference point for contemporary art: “José Ignacio has always been a special and magical place for me. What was once a holiday destination has in recent years become a destination for cultural discovery with art venues that are now a reference in the region: James Turrell’s Skyspace, the VIK Pavillion and the incredible Rizoma bookshop.” So the philanthropist immediately thought that no one would be better placed than an artist to shape – literally – the residence of her dreams: “Giménez was able to represent the joy and innocence of a child, in the best sense of the word! The intense green of Casa Neptuna stands out against the landscape of the indigenous forest, giving life to a construction with geometric figures that precisely reflects Giménez’s stylistic signature and creative ‘syntax’.”
The most curious aspect of the residency? “First of all, Edgardo Giménez was given maximum creative freedom to carry out his project,” says Amalia Amoedo. And let’s not forget the difficult moment in which it was born: “Casa Neptuna was built during the pandemic and Giménez participated in the construction from Buenos Aires by means of telephone and video calls. Because of the difficult situation, a local architect and his team worked in José Ignacio following his instructions,” the philanthropist explains. “I first made a model of how I wanted Casa Neptuna to look, and then we started to collaborate with the team working in Uruguay,” adds the artist.
While the exteriors of Casa Neptuna are seductive in their fantasy and extravagance, with a postmodern touch that evokes some of Alessandro Mendini’s “architectural fantasies“, the interiors are a hymn to clarity and neatness of form. Spacious and bright, the rooms are adapted to the needs of multidisciplinary artists. Two people can live and collaborate in these spaces, which include a large shared studio, private rooms with bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a multifunctional common room. The outdoor green space offers a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Edgardo Giménez’s creations always develop from intuition and play, whether it is a sculpture or a house. This is why Casa Neptuna also has the distinctive characteristics of his creative alphabet: saturated and vivid colours, the presence of the rainbow, the circular shapes of the windows and arches, its emblematic cloverleaf door. Amalia Amoedo, who had full confidence in his inventiveness, knows this well: “In Giménez’s architecture, his authentically artistic way of thinking and creating triumphs. He is not just a designer or architect. Rather, he is a total artist.”
“No academy in the world teaches you to imagine. The most valuable thing is to come from yourself. For an artist, creativity is the most natural thing. Giménez is rightly convinced of this, as he is already the author of emblematic projects such as Casa Azul (included in the MoMA exhibition Transformations in Modern Architecture) designed for the art collector Jorge Romero Brest, among his architectural concepts that preceded the genesis of Casa Neptuna. “Whenever you find yourself in a place that doesn’t look like something you already know, new sensations are awakened. When designing Casa Neptuna, it was important to me that the space allowed for play, that it allowed for imagination and that its inhabitants felt transported to an ‘elsewhere’ that was different from their daily routine,” explains the artist. Because true art is that which does not leave one indifferent.
But what counts for Giménez is an idea that goes beyond any ideology and from which he does not waver:
“Art is not the legacy of a specific social class: art is for everyone.”
Ama Amoedo’s sponsorship
Created to promote and support Latin American art and forms of expression, the Fundación Ama Amoedo is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2021. At the head of this initiative is the patron and philanthropist Amalia Amoedo, who has been collecting and supporting the arts for over twenty years. The foundation’s mission is to expand the network and knowledge of Latin American, Caribbean and diaspora art, with a focus on the Uruguayan and Argentinean scenes. It is under the artistic direction of Veronica Flom. Its commitment continues, among other things, with the second edition of the FAARA residency, which will begin in March 2023. The selected artists are : Marylin Boror Bor (Guatemala), Seba Calfuqueo (Chile), Lizania Cruz (Dominican Republic), Paola Monzillo (Uruguay), Rita Ponce de Leon (Chile) and Florencia Sadir (Argentina).
Casa Neptuna (FAARA)
Del Timonel 4, 20402 Faro de José Ignacio, Departamento de Maldonado, Uruguay