‘Symmetry of Memory’ – Germán Bernal

Symmetry of Memory - German Bernal

Symmetry of Memory

An artistic dialogue between the geometry of nature and materials like wood and rice paper is that which is being presented in Cero Gallery by the Bogota artist Germán Bernal (1959), in his exhibition ‘Symmetry’ of Memory.

After living for 25 years in Europe, Bernal decided to return to Colombia a few years ago, specifically to a reservation near Icononzo (Tolima), where he created a space for artist residences for those  artists interested in working with nature.

“In my work I am evoking, somehow, the memory of nature and materials. And I use geometry as a language of knowledge, “says the artist, who trained as a photographer in Workshop 5 and then continued working in Europe with video techniques and jewelry.

The exhibition presents works of medium format in which geometric figures are worked in mixed media using recycled Japanese books of poetry, history and geometry papers and paper currency, in a clear allusion to the ancient wisdom of the East.

“I’ve always been inspired by Japanese aesthetics. I think we have much to learn from them. So I started working this series with Japanese writing paper, because I think that the handwriting has great mystery and magic” notes the artist.

In his wood sculptures, made from walnut, Bernal also returns to the experience gained of being a craft jeweler during many years in Hamburg.

Not surprisingly, he defines some of his works as ‘light clocks’, inspired by the careful assembly of a jewel in large format. It is curious how they change according to the perception of the viewer. “Somehow they deal with kinetic art, this being my updated proposal in wood” he says.

In his sculpture, Bernal reflect particular concern about their movement. “They are inspired by geometry, but here is a more organic form that evokes water waves and sound,” he concludes.

Symmetry of Memory - German Bernal

Symmetry of Memory

The exhibition runs until the first of December.

Cero gallery, Calle 80 n. ° 12-55, Bogotá

Inf .: (1) 217-7698 www.cerogaleria.com

Translated from an original article in ElTiempo.com written on 22nd November 2015


Related Posts

Share This

Beatriz González: The World Goes Pop – Tate Modern, London

While in London visiting the Frieze exhibition I heard that the renowned Colombian artist Beatriz González had work included at “The World Goes Pop” exhibition at the Tate Modern…so I decided to go along.

The Tate Modern is generally free to enter if you want to view its collection but as this was a special show there was a £14.50 (or £16 with a donation) charge for the general public. The museum itself is located quite centrally in Southwark along the South Bank of the river Thames and is reasonably easy to reach.

The exhibition was themed around pop art and it was divided into different sections The collection was curated by Flavia Frigeri and Jessica Morgan and and I think they have done good job after spending several years looking for pop art that was not defined by its commerciality.

“It’s pop art definitely that does have a twist and very often it has a political twist to it which is something you don’t always see with your more traditional pop artists,” commented Flavia Frigeri in relation to the whole show.

Beatriz González’ work was placed into a section called folk art and although to me the works of the other artists present in that section did seem more like folk art it doesn’t seem to me to be the best fit especially given the nature of her work as actually described in the curatorial process as being of a strongly political nature.

Much of Beatriz Gonzalez’ artistic formation was born with the period known as “La Violencia” (“The Violence”) which started in 1948 when she was just 10 – an age when most of us start to become more aware of what goes on around us – and which continued through to around 1958.

What was a surprise to me, though perhaps it shouldn’t have been given the standard of the museum was that the pieces chosen to be shown are arguably her most famous/promoted works which date back to the mid 60s and early 70s and perhaps her most representative of that period….but she has done much more work since then none of which was included perhaps due to the time period over which the curators wanted to consider the creation of “pop art”.

Beatriz Gonzalez - Tate Modern

“Los suicidas de Sisga” (1965) – The Sisga Suicides

Los suicidas de Sisga earned Beatriz Gonzalez a prize in the National Art Salon of 1965.

“The Sisga Suicides” painting number 1, 2 and 3 resides in three different collections:
– the first is from the Diana and Bruce Halle private art collection
– the second from the “La Tertulia” museum
– the third from the Colombian National Museum in Bogota

The Sisga bridge crosses a gorge and is located about an hour and a half north east of Bogota. It is situated beside a reservoir that provides Bogota with part of its water needs. It was there that the desperate couple decided to end their lives.

Beatriz Gonzalez and others were of course highly impacted by this desperate event and as such she chronicled it through her art using the pictures of the lovers that appeared in the local press at the time. Her criticism was of the presses macabre interest in the event, often called “amarillismo” or “yellow journalism” which basically refers to its crude and striking nature that many sensationalist “newspapers” used as their angle, befitting to the gutter press rather than serious news establishments. It was also perhaps made as a commentary on the continued interest in violent events at a time when the first guerrilla were starting to form looking to combat the wealthy “owners” of the political establishment.

To the art critic Eduardo Serrano, the “Sisga Suicides” is a work “that marks a interest in social problems which focuses the problems of people of few resources, and which until that moment was not a theme of priority in Colombian art.”*

It is the style of the work in itself that lends to its classification as pop art:
simple line definitions and simple colours reminiscent of Warhols work. Were it not so, this style would perhaps be simply classed as naif, despite the fact that Gonzalez studied fine arts and art history at the University of the Andes and in 1966 studied graphics in Rotterdam.

Colombian Art

“La Última Mesa” (1970) – “The Last Table”

“The Last Table” depicts her rendition of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” by imposing it upon the actual table surface. The object measures 760 x 2053 x 1052 mm and is dinner table size. Whether it was her intention or not, it was still not unusual for dead bodies to be laid out on the dinner table. An unconscious reflection of the society, its violence, its’s religion and culture?

As an artist instead of using traditional and fine linen, Beatriz González decided to use metal, furniture, tires, shower curtains, pots. Her characters have been the political, social and religious aspects of life in Colombia and “La Última Mesa” is a prime example of that.

“Looking at others through the eyes of others” is how Beatriz González describes her art and the complete works of Beatriz Gonzalez is a critical and acute journey through the history of Colombia.

Exhibition Dates & Details

The exhibition continues through to 24th January 2016 and I think it a very enjoyable couple of hours could be had here that would allow you to get to see pop art presented in a different way and see some new artists that are perhaps eclipsed by the ever-present giants such as Warhol, Lichtenstein and Indiana.

An audio guide is available for £4 and a softcover book for £25. I think they would get more book sales if they gave a £4 discount on its purchase to those who bought the audio guide….but I´ll leave the marketing up to the Tate 😉

Beatriz González: The World Goes Pop
The EY Exhibition: Eyal Ofer Galleries, Tate Modern, London
15 Sept – 24 January 2016

* Sourced and translated from Semana

** If you would like to know more about Beatriz Gonzalez’ work I highly recommend this interesting blog by Alex Kittle and this excellent interview published in Spanish with Beatriz González reviewing her life and art in Colombia  by María Paulina Ortíz.

The patchwork quilt, trunk of memories

Art Exhibition: The patchwork quilt, trunk of memories

neebex-caucho retazos

Neebex is a space dedicated to emerging art in Colombia, located in Candelaria in the centre of Bogota. Since 2012 the gallery has worked with a focus on young artists to support their projects. The gallery space is also available for students visits, the distribution of fanzines and independent publications.

Opening Thursday November 11, 2015
Until November 27.

Monday-Friday 10 am-6pm.

Free entrance.

Kra 3 # 12-42 | Tel. 2849490
Bogota, Colombia

Santiago Montoya exhibits in London

Art by Santiago MontoyaHalcyon Gallery will  present an exhibition of new works by Colombian artist Santiago Montoya. The solo exhibition titled “Unfinished Business” is Montoya’s third at the gallery in London. It runs from the 21st October – 10th November 2015.

Unfinished Business sees Montoya continue to develop his dialogue spotlighting society’s contemporaneous relationships with money and the economy at large. Using uncirculated bank notes, he creates canvases which boldly illuminate tensions; questioning preconceptions and offering new pertinence to complex social constructs. The clichéd titles of Montoya’s work add an element of humour to his work enticing viewers into the debate.

Montoya views bank-notes as ready-made painted surfaces, as snapshots of time, theatres in which political propaganda and historic events play out. Yet these paintings come with their own pre-assigned commercial value which forms the basis of all international trade, relations and infrastructure. The result is artwork saturated with layers of meaning.

“For so many years, we fought nature to survive, and I wonder if, for some of us, the economy has taken its place. We´ve anchored our expectations for wellbeing, success and happiness on the economy. The economy has become a new god, which we all cease to understand. An incomprehensible mystery of which many prophets write about, at times becoming holy, and at others, an evil in disguise. For better or worse (interdependently inseparable), as inconclusive as things are in the sacred fields of religion – and economy, it seems that we have quite a distance to go before we conclude… all I pray is that in my time, it remains forever Unfinished Business.” – Santiago Montoya

Interview with Santiago Montoya in Spanish about the consumer culture and his art.


Related Posts

Share This

Frieze !

Frieze! – an art show that will definitely stop you in your tracks

Frieze Art Fair 2015
Casas Riegner Gallery - Frieze 2015

Under a cloudy October sky Frieze London entertains Londoners and its London’s visitors to a host of art presented by galleries from around the world. Here only one gallery was to be found representing Colombian artists: Casas Riegner fronted by its International Curator and Director Paula Bossa. This is Casas Riegner’s fifth consecutive year at the Frieze London art fair and it has had a tremendous reception.

One of the more important artists represented by the gallery is Beatriz Gonzalez who’s work is important enough to be in the latest exhibition of pop art at the Tate Gallery in London titled “The World Goes Pop”. (Click here to read Beatriz Gonzalez “The World Goes Pop” Tate interview)


Other artists whose work is presented by the gallery are: Johanna Calle, Adolfo Bernal, Bernardo Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Antonio Suarez Londoño.

Alex Rodriguez - Casas Riegner

Alex Rodriguez – Casas Riegner

Casa Riegner Visitors


Frieze Art Fair Itself

Tracey Emin Bath

Tracey Emin Bath

Frieze London is a great event situated in Regents Park in the heart of London. Within the park is the London Zoo and the park itself is dotted with wood sculptures, trails and paths, football and rugby field where local kids and adults come to exercise and now, as part of their cultural diet they can include a visit to over to the Sculpture Garden which is going to remain in-situ till January 2016. It really is a perfect place for the event and the shuttle buses provided by BMW to ferry people between Frieze and Frieze Master were a definite boon on what was a rather cold Saturday when I visited.

Unfortunately Freize (not Frieze Masters) has introduced a new cloakroom policy  whereby all medium to large bags are not permitted inside the fair and so such items will need to be left at the cloakroom inside the fair at a cost of £5 per item. Coats and smaller items can be checked free of charge. Not a good idea!!!  I think as people pay £30 pounds a head and may wish to bring their kids along in a stroller that another £5 is a bit much, especially when for many families it may be an unexpected additional surprise cost – even for a small rucksack which many people use when visiting London but were asked to check creating a long line. However, the event is free for accompanied children under 12 and that is a policy to be lauded and encouraged as are the free Art Talks and the availability of art tours and bespoke art tours.

Colombia at Frieze London 2015

mauricio zequedaWell, its the time of year for Frieze London and there seems to be only one gallery representing Colombia: Casas Riegner

They have already done Colombia proud as they have been awarded a Special Commendations for their stand presentation! The main stand presentation prize was won by Stuart Shave Modern Art.

I’ll soon be down there in London and hope to get a few photos to publish here!

At this time of year everyone is in town as there are other parallel fairs to rival Frieze such as the Sunday Art Fair where artworks can be obtained at a lesser price.

Also, David Zwirner Gallery is presenting an exhibition by Oscar Murillo at the same time – and why not! Murillo’s work is also part of the Frieze fair’s Sculpture Park presentation which takes place in Regent’s Park. There he will debut social anomalies from a factory (2013), a sculpture comprised of a series of stainless steel fruit crates. The artist also has a solo show at the South London Gallery which includes a unique “lottery ticket” project, and winners will be chosen on Friday, October 18.

I have seen similar lotteries or raffles as they are also known in the UK done at the Cero Gallery in Bogota with the renowned artist Mauricio Zequeda allowing the visitors to his exhibition to win an artwork…and why not. It’s all part of the fun of art and it’s theirs to give to whom they please!



Related Posts

Share This

Mural and Public Art Biennal 2016 – Cali, Colombia

2016 Biennal Cali Colombia

I thought I’d get ahead of the curve here an let all you readers know that the inscriptions will soon be opening for the Cali Mural and Public Art International Biennial in November 2015 and the actual event is programmed for September 2016.  This is the 3rd event to be held and hopefully it will be as successful as the other. As soon as more detailed info is available it will be published on ArtColombia.com.

Here’s the link to get some more information of past events (in Spanish): Mural and Public Art Biennal 2016 – Cali, Colombia 

Haven’t found an English version yet…if you do let me know: info@artcolombia.com




Related Posts

Share This

Street Art in Bogota!

Street Art Colombia

I love finding new articles on art in Colombia. This one however has another side to the story which is not revealed – and all is not rosy …so read on!

The article  provides some good information on international artists such as Pez (Spain/Cataluña) and Crisp (Australia),  as well as Colombian artists like Guache, Mico, DJ Lu, Praxis, Lesivo, Katze 3, and Toxicomano – all working there presenting their view of the world they want to see, be that political or pure art. Hosted on Fusion.net it has some great photos of the street art in Bogota.

Street artists or “grafiteros” as they are known in Colombia are now able to be much more open in what they are doing and and many are now even hired to cover temporary building site walls and placards as street artwork is often respected by peers and so is less subject to vandalism.

As the blog says, there is a generally permissive side now to street art in Bogota – but this was born with a price.

In 2011 the Bogota police killed grafitero Diego Felipe Becerra with two shots in the back. This of course caused a public outcry enough to cause the Vice-president of Colombia to take personal oversight of the investigation as the public would not have believed the police version. His friends organized a march for his cause.

This is at least one reason that you will find greater tolerance today by police and officials for the creation of art on the streets of Colombia.

So, now you know – enjoy the article I found and remember the true story behind it!

Here’s the link to the article:


ArtBo 2015

Although Artbo does not seek to be a large trade show, its growth is undeniable: 65 galleries that were in the 2014 edition, this year the International Art Fair in Bogotá went to 84, from 33 cities worldwide.

The reason for this increase is due to the change of date, which allowed the fair not to conflict with others. “The Colombian market has a lot to show and every time we come we try to learn more about it to exploit its advantages,” said Gregor Podnar, a German gallery owner, who presented the Galerija Gregor Podnar (Berlin).

ARTBO bogota colombia

Posted by Miguel Diazgranados Morales on Saturday, 3 October 2015

Last year around 450 artists exhibited works, this time there were about 500, with more than 3,000 works. Moreover, some 35,000 people, including the general public, collectors and curators from Colombia and other countries visited the fair, which ended last Sunday. This represented an increase of 5,000 visitors compared to last year. And 10,000 more, when compared with participants who had in 2013 also attended the fair.

Maria Paz Gaviria, director of Artbo stressed the resonance that this event has acquired now having held its 11th edition on the world stage. “Increasingly, the model of the show gains more world recognition. Its position as a quality in Latin America is stronger” she said in a press release announced at the Chamber of Commerce of Bogota.

Moreover, the commitment to including contemporary artistic expressions such as ‘performance’ or the ‘happening’, inside and outside the fair, was well received on social networks.

On this occasion, the first Oma Art Award was given to José Alejandro Restrepo, winner of the Luis Caballero Prize VII in 2013. The artist Sandra Rengifo, who presented her work in the Artecámara section, was the winner of Prodigy Flora Scholarship Award, now in its 3rd year and delivered by Prodigy Network and supported by El Tiempo and ‘La W’.

“It is a very important event for the region and as Mexicans we wanted to have presence in Colombia. Artbo has become a fair for all of Latin America, “said the Mexican gallerist Andres Arredondo.

Translated and edited from ElTiempo.com: Cultura y entretenimiento |  5 de octubre de 2015

Colombia’s Art Scene Heats Up

Desconocido V

Art by Eivar Moya – Title:”Desconocido V”

“For years, no one came to Doris Salcedo‘s studio in Bogotá, Colombia, to watch her twist rickety bed frames into haunting sculptures. In Medellín, José Antonio Suárez Londoño worked in similar isolation, filling notebooks with tiny drawings while he listened to gruesome radio reports about cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Farther north, Gabriel Sierra grew up in the lush countryside fearing government soldiers and guerrillas alike, learning nothing about art except what he saw in encyclopedias. And yet still he drew.”

by Kelly Crow

To read more full original article: Colombias Art Scene Heats Up


Kelly Crow’s article is generally true, but of course there are other perhaps more relevant truths to consider. The Colombian art scene, as with others around the world, is often one that only generates a “story” when there is money involved. There is plenty of art in Colombia and as Ms. Crow says, artists will create art whatever the situation of their country or even personal circumstance.

Colombian artists were “discovered” after the country started to receive foreign investment and assistance in the drugs “war”. However, many Colombian artists had made a name inside or outside their countries long before the “major” artists she speaks of.

Contemporary artists like Eivar Moya, Homero Aguilar, Dario Ortíz, Miguel de la Espriella and Heriberto Cogollo have taken their art abroad over many years. Not to mention artists like Grau, Manzur, and Negret….yes, whose fame only require their surname to be mentioned….who over decades had helped form what the Colombian art scene is today…in one way or another.

Original art article from Wall Street Journal

Colombia Recounted

Art by Miguel de la Espriella - Title: 'Margaritas'

Art by Miguel de la Espriella – Title: ‘Margaritas’

Christie’s is pleased to present a selling exhibition Colombia Recounted: A Project of Contemporary Colombian Art, which will provide a glimpse of Colombia’s contemporary art through the works of artists who have played a major role in the development of the country’s arts scene over the last decades. Curators Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig, PhD, and Oscar Roldán-Alzate, MS, have selected works that represent different views within a common context that go beyond geographical limits and extends to the international contemporary discourse. The selling exhibition, which coincides with Christie’s May auctions of Latin American Art, will be open to the public and will be installed the new West Galleries.

Comprised of paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations, the group is suggestive of the crossroads that characterize the Colombian art scene and establishes critical links between culture and the development of new narratives, inquiring about the territory and the plurality of the landscape. Among the artists featured in the exhibition are Monika Bravo, María Fernanda Cardoso, Antonio Caro, Rafael Gomez Barros, Beatriz González, Miler Lagos, Oscar Muñoz, Luis Fernando Roldán, and Doris Salcedo.


As ever, and as the curators themselves complain, a very very small of all professional colombian artists work is presented at this exhibition. However, at least there is some inroads into presenting Colombian art to a wider viewing public and for that the efforts are to be reocmmended.


Original full art article publication: Colombia Recounted

PDF of Colombia Recounted

ArtBo 2014

Once again it is time for international galleries to return to Bogota and show the local public what is going on around the world in art!