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Art Articles, Analysis and Stories

“The Fable of the Blind Artist” – Dario Ortíz

The Museum of Modern Art of the State of Mexico celebrates its 30 years of existence with the exhibition “Darío Ortiz: The Fable of the Blind Artist”, a selection of works by the Colombian artist based in Mexico.

The exhibition, made up of works belonging to Mexican collections made mostly in the last decade, intertwine forms of the Renaissance and Baroque with a contemporary look that questions historical dogmas, investigates in the collective memory and manages to visualize, through art, the tones of modern civilization.

Darío Ortiz (Ibagué, 1968), works on a figurative narrative that explores the human condition; To materialize the argument the painter makes use of a refined technique that flirts with the surrealism and theatricality of the classic antiquity, uniting the legendary practices of man with those of the present time, revealing a criticism of the paradoxical situation of contemporary man and his accelerated existence. The crossing of garments, actions and customs between centuries makes certainties uncertain and calls for a deep reflection on the strict laws of the earthly.

The public will be able to enjoy this exhibition from March 4 at 12:00 in the Museum of Modern Art, located in the Centro Cultural Mexiquense, until April 17, and understand the question that the author himself poses: Does slow and meditative painting make sense in this dizzying and fleeting world where the ephemeral has primacy?

Centro Cultural Mexiquense is a cultural center located on the western edge of the city of Toluca in central Mexico.
 Address: Jesús Reyes Heroles 302, Delegación San Buenaventura, 50110 Toluca de Lerdo, Méx., Mexico

Hours:  10AM–6PM
Phone: +52 722 274 1222


Original article in Spanish

ArtBo 2016


It’s art month in Bogotá, and for three days, from October 27 to 30, the capital hosts the 12th edition of the International Art Fair of Bogotá (ARTBO), one of the most important contemporary art fairs in Latin America.

The City Paper

This year 74 galleries from 28 different cities from across the world have been invited to present their works, with 500 artists in attendance, as well as buyers, curators, and publishers. After more than a decade of opening up the Colombian capital to art, this year’s fair brings back respected galleries as well as newcomers Peter Kilchmann (Switzerland), Galerie Jérome Poggi (France), Rafael Pérez Hernando (Spain), and Johannes Vogt Gallery (United States). In addition, Latin American galleries El Apartamento (Cuba), Walden Gallery (Argentina), and AFA Gallery (Chile) will showcase their artists for the first time at ARTBO.

The ‘Projects’ segment of the fair will be curated by writer and exhibition-maker Jens Hofmann, deputy director of New York’s Jewish Museum and artistic director of the Cleveland-based FRONT International.The focus of “Projects” for this 12th edition is to explore the role of the figurative in the works of two leading women of Colombian art – Débora Arango and Beatriz González.

Mexican Pablo León de la Barra, curator of Guggenheim Latin America, has been commissioned for the ‘Referentes’ section where artists exhibit on a specific theme. And the up-and-coming talent salon “Artecámara,” in the hands of Colombian curators Maria Belen Saénz and Fernando Escobar, will present the works of 24 promising young Colombian artists, including award winners José Alejandro Restrepo and Sandra Rengifo.

This year’s fair also includes a new space titled “Talks with collectors” led by Abaseh Mirvali, an Iranian-American curator of contemporary art.

“With this edition we reach 12 years of supporting our artists and gallery owners, offering support for improving their competitiveness and supporting the circulation of the arts,” said Monica de Greiff, president of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce.

Last year’s fair attracted more than 35,000 visitors and consolidated ARTBO as the most important showcase for the art market in the country. The fair covers 13,000 square meters of the Corferias exhibition grounds and with each edition welcomes more visitors, proving that Bogotá is a vital arts capital in the Americas. The fair launched back in 2005 with 29 galleries from seven countries.

Among the high-profile Bogotá galleries at ARTBO 2016 are El Museo, La Cometa, Nueveochenta, Doce Cero Cero, and Beatriz Esguerra Arte. Two Manhattan galleries that specialize in Latin American art, Leon Tovar Gallery and Y Gallery, return this year, as well as the Los Angeles-based Steve Turner and Mama.

With a recently launched new website and hashtag #ARTBO2016 to follow the art happenings on your mobile, the fair expects to receive 45,000 visitors, marking a new record in attendance for a fair that continues to position itself as an essential meeting place for artists, collectors and curators, but also a window on the Colombian capital.

Corferias  – Ave La Esperanza with Cra 39

Doors open noon until 8:00 pm.

Tickets: $32,000 (adults), $15,000 (students). Children under age 10 free admission.

Written by Richard Emblin, The City Paper

Colombian artists in the spotlight abroad

Colombian artists are slowly making their way into more international gallery and museum spaces. The following re-published article focuses on some of Colombia´s art talents who have forged the way. There are many reason for Colombian artists to make headway abroad – better recognition at home and internationally could be one, but also it could be said that the market internally for art in Colombia is just too small to provide them with the financial opportunities to help many of them develop their business. Less than 5% of students who originally start out studying art at universities in Colombia end up being able to become professional artists. Such are the difficulties that most artists face when having to provide for a family and develop a business at the same time.

Art from Colombia


Colombian artists in the spotlight abroad by Niamh Hallet for The City Paper

Bogotá’s art scene came intensely alive last month  as artists, collectors, advisors, curators and spectators converged for a one-week feast of exhibitions, the centre of which was ArtBO.

With 84 galleries from 20 countries represented, the art world was abuzz, and many quality works got well-deserved international recognition.

It appears the gaze of many prestigious art galleries, curators and collectors is now fixed on Colombia.

“The Colombian art scene is in no way emerging. It’s just that recently it has begun to establish a name for itself.”

But as well-known art scene figures scout for new Colombian talent, many artists still find international representation few and far between. And even though their projects speak for themselves, language is a formidable barrier for many artists.

Still, some local artists such as Oscar Murillo and Rafael Gómez Barros have been able to get a foot in the door. Their work was on display at the reputable Saatchi gallery in London as part of the Pangaea exhibition last year.

Both men have established themselves relatively recently as sought after artists, and sell work at prices well into the triple figures.

For decades, Fernando Botero was the only Colombian artist who succeeded in establishing himself prominently on the international scene. His bronze figures could be found everywhere from Barcelona to Manhattan.

But the Financial Times describes this prolonged period of international artistic anonymity as Colombia’s “50 years of solitude.”

Then came sculptor Doris Salcedo with a number of overseas exhibitions in the 90s and an acclaimed installation of “Shibboleth” in the Tate Modern in 2007.

Now, Oscar Murillo and Rafael Gómez Barros are just two of a significant number of rising star artists gaining ground abroad.

These recent successes have helped provide further impetus for Colombia’s increased international visibility. But as María Paz Gaviria, the director of ArtBO stated, “The Colombian art scene is in no way emerging. It’s just that recently it has begun to establish a name for itself.”

Philipa Adams, director of Saatchi gallery, notes that the recent interest in Colombia is not due to a suddenly thriving art scene, but the fact that it’s only now that international visitors are beginning to take a closer look.

The changing political climate in recent years, she explains, has “opened up different dynamics and allowed more freedom.”

This freedom is pushing Colombia forward as a fashionable emerging art market, and key art industry figures are making the trip to find out what’s waiting to be uncovered.

Most of this exploration is confined to occasional visits and participation in the various art events which take place yearly during Bogotá art week. But London-based art advisor and curator Sandra Higgins believes a longer stay is necessary in order to understand “the full spectrum of art in Colombia.”

While most visitors were moving onwards after October’s busy art events, Sandra was looking for a home in Bogotá for the next six months. Her sojourn here will involve visits to galleries all over the country, numerous interviews, participation in the production of a documentary on Colombian art, and preparation for a future exhibition in London featuring Colombian artists.

Sandra’s relationship to Colombian art goes back to the 1990s, but it only truly began to deepen four years ago. Since then, she has been active in promoting Colombian artists through her gallery in Chelsea and other spaces.

Her last four exhibitions featured Colombian artists Carlos Jacanamijoy, Lucas Posada, Omar Casteñeda and Maripaz Jaramillo.

With her personal taste self-described as leaning towards the “painterly”, she would like to see more art created with traditional mediums alongside fashionable Colombian conceptual artworks represented in London.

The exhibition she organized for Lucas Posada was made possible with the help of Avianca, and Sandra is a firm believer in the increased possibilities that collaboration with the private corporate sector can provide.

The forging of such alliances is essential so that Colombia can open its arms to more and more art professionals, she said.

Colombia’s growing international appeal in terms of art is, of course, closely aligned to its growing appeal in general as a tourist destination and as a viable economic opportunity for foreigners.

In London, Sandra has observed that the lack of knowledge and negative stereotyping that has excluded Colombia from international visibility still persists to some extent. And she affirms that “the international art community needs to move beyond limiting associations related to the conflict.”

It seems clear that there is a wealth of opportunity to be uncovered, but for most artists the path to international success is still dubious.

As a former artist herself, Sandra can sympathize with the struggles of lesser-known Colombian artists.

Some may be riding on the positive waves of burgeoning international interest. But many local artists must exercise “patience and tenacity” as they strive to enter the limelight — and the notoriously capricious world of international art.


Original article written by Niamh Harnett and published in The City Paper

Lina Sinisterra: Flying High at the Pudahuel Airport in Chile!

Lina Sinisterra is a well known artist who works out of Bogota. Better known for her paintings or art installations using candy she has recently hit the headlines again for the presentation of her latest public sculpture situated at the Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Pudahuel, Santiago, Chile. For some the installation has a polemical side as the aeroplanes that form the sculpture are lit in the colors of the Colombian flag and not the Chilean!

The following article has been translated by ArtColombia from the original article by Denisse Espinoza published in La Tercera newspaper on the 22nd December 2015.

Lina Sinisterra sculpture in Chile


Aircraft lit for the Pudahuel airport

All Destinations” is an artwork 14 meters high of the Colombian artist Lina Sinisterra, winner of the public art commission MOP Antúnez which has been newly installed at the entrance of Arturo Merino Benitez Airport.

After more than 10 years of twists and turns, the work of the Colombian Lina Sinisterra (1970) has just opened at the entrance of Arturo Merino Benitez Airport. In 2001, the artist first participated at the contest defined by the Nemesio Antúnez Commission Ministry of Public Works (MOP), which allocates 0.5% of the total cost from the airport to the development of a work of art. That year, Sinisterra came second, being surpassed by Chilean Patrick Steeger and his work Legoport, a sculpture made with suitcases. Sinisterra was then offered the opportunity for her art proposal to replace the mural “Verbo América” by Roberto Matta, which was transferred from the airport to the Metro station Quinta Normal in 2003.

However, due to administrative issues the budget to create Sinisterra’s work was frozen, only to be revived as project this year, but now placed outside the airport and with monumental proportions. The installation “All Destinations”, with a cost of CLP$ 250 million (around USD 350,000), is 14 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, and is composed of 42 colored planes that are illiminated at night through a system of LED lights, programmed to turn on and off to simulate a motion effect, as if the planes were advancing one after another, moving and returning to the same place.

“I have an obsession with rescuing the pleasure and joy I felt as a child with colors and toys. I want to return to childhood playfulness. The sculpture is a welcome and an invitation to this place, where it one can be on their way towards a dream, to start unexpected experiences” says Sinisterra.

The Colombian artist has a strong tie with Chile: in the late 90s she attended the Masters in Visual Arts at the University of Chile and lived in the country for 10 years, while a student of Eugenio Dittborn. Her initial training, though, is as a psychologist: to Sinisterra art has a therapeutic nature, rather than a profession it is a way of life.

Now based in Colombia, the artist has created installations and exhibitions in Bogota, Sao Paulo, Caracas, Madrid, Santiago and has just participated in the Miami Art Basel Art Fair. “I do not feel connected to political art. Mine is the aesthetic pleasure and from there to understand something else, but not from tragedy” she says.

The Antúñez Commission, for its part, created in 1994 has installed more than 180 public artworks throughout Chile. This year it also inaugurated a sculpture by Federico Assler in Coronel, which cost CLP$ 114 million, and in May three winning works were awarded to artists José Vicente Gajardo, Marcela Romagnoli and Francisca Sánchez to be installed along the highway of the Puerto Montt-Pargua for a total cost of CLP$ 446 million. They will be opened in the coming months.

Link to original article in Spanish: Cultura-La Tercera


Video of the Sculpture: “All Destinations” created by Lina Sinisterra

‘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

Translated from an original article in 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.

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 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:

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