‘It is an art scene which has not yet reached critical mass but it’s growing and there is a strong momentum.’
Hans Ulrich Obrist, Curator and Co-Director at the Serpentine Gallery
Colombia may not often be thought of as a destination for contemporary art lovers. However, since Obrist paid his first visit to the country in 2010, several top curators followed his example, among them Klaus Biesenbach, of New York’s MoMA PS1, and Jens Hoffmann, of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. Subsequently, in January 2012 Tate appointed the Colombian curator José Roca to both supervise Tate’s acquisitions of art from Latin America and facilitate the development of relationships Tate has within the region. As the result of these endeavors, Colombian artists work in a context increasingly exposed to the international art world through the proliferation of art fairs, biennials, and museums. Yet still there are layers and layers of undiscovered artists whose work I seek to bring to your attention via this blog but also in exhibitions at the Gallery Petit later in 2013.
As the Colombian contemporary art scene is divided between the two magnificent cities – Bogotá and Cartagena de Indias, I decided to visit both of them this month. The art adventure started in the beautiful Cartagena where I joined Ofelia Rodriguez, my dear friend whom I have represented for many years. The photo below shows my host in the courtyard of her wonderful house.
Despite Bogotá’s incredible cultural infrastructure encompassing over 58 museums and dozens of art galleries, Cartagena is an up and coming destination for contemporary art to rival the capital. Hay Festival, which I attended two weeks ago, is one of the cultural events that fuels Cartagena’s vibrant cultural scene. Currently in its eighth year, the festival has become the number one literary event in the Hispanic world. Although the focus is on literature, the festival’s cultural significance is much broader as it also functions as a platform for visual arts, cinema and music with a considerable attention devoted to geopolitics, journalism and environmental issues. To better understand how this eclectic mix works together, have a look at the Cartagena’s communal bottle recycling bin below. Attractive design caring quote by Victor Hugo as literary reference with environmental message: an unlikely but well-matched combination!
But back to high art: apart from the Hay festival, I have also attended a show of Ofelia Rodriquez at a gallery called Art Cartagena. The gallery space, located in a charming ancient building in the Historic Centre of Cartagena and run by Norma Uparela, carries work by some of the best artists from the city. Interestingly, Norma’s gallery is at her home – a very similar venue to my Salon exhibitions. Below Norma and Ofelia showing her work followed by a photo of the gallery space.
Thanks to my host in Bogotá, Guillermo Londoño, I managed to visit many artists’ studios and acquaint myself with the very best that is on offer there at the moment. Born in Bogotá, Guillermo is himself an integral part of this vibrant art scene. Below the artist in his studio.
Bogotá is a lively and beautiful city with many talented emerging artists who aspire to achieve the status of their internationally acclaimed compatriots such as Fernando Botero and Doris Salcedo. Indeed, Botero is still omnipresent in the city that he loves, as is Salcedo: below are images of the former public statue and the latter’s work at the Banco de Republica Collection in Bogotá.
After Botero and Salcedo, Miler Lagos is in a good position to become another internationally acclaimed Colombian artist since his paper constructions below are soon to be shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
Other wonderful talents emerging in Bogotá now, who I had the pleasure of meeting, are Anna Maria Rueda, Nohemi Perez, Saul Sanchez and Rodrigo Echeverri. Check out their exciting work below!