Monthly Archives: November 2015

‘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

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