Bernardita Mandiola, AMA Foundation Director, on Contemporary Art and Chile’s Thriving Art Scene

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

Independent curator, AMA Foundation Director and part of this year's Editorial Committee at Ch.ACO Art Fair (November 22-26, in Santiago, Chile), Bernardita Mandiola, speaks on Chile’s blossoming contemporary art scene, its repercussions outside of Latin America and why fairs like Ch.ACO have become a faithful reflection of the current social and political situation in the region. To top it off, AMA Foundation, initiative by Chilean art collector Juan Yarur, member of the Latin American Acquisition Board for the Tate Modern Gallery in London, is also turning 10 this year and will be kicking off the celebrations in November 2018.

What contemporary artwork has had the greatest impact on you and why?

More than one work, I would say that it was a show put on by LACMA in 1991, “The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany”. It was an incredible show that put a lot of questions on the table, questions of censorship and the dangers of government propaganda, something that is recurring in the present political climate of the world.

Furthermore, I should probably go for a contemporary piece but I think one that I always come back to is Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels by Jean Foucquet, c.1450. The composition, color choice and quality of the painting is superb.

How would you describe the current contemporary art scene in Latin America?

I would say that the defining aspect of the contemporary art scene in Latin America has to do with a “re-discovery” or a new academic reading into artworks that were until recently repressed, due to social, gender and political constraints within Latin America in the last century. This is seen in the contemporary works of young Latin American artists, such as Enrique Ramírez whose work poetically evokes Native American beliefs along with political scars that are part of Chile’s history. In the academic area, there are many researchers in and out of the region that are looking to artists from Latin America as historical archives open up and art histories are revealed through artistic crosscurrents. An excellent example of this is the research done in the recent exhibit, Radical Women, currently at the Brooklyn Museum, as well as several recent studies on queer art in Latin America; work that was socially and politically repressed until recently.  

What cultural news and interest do you think Chile offers?

I think the most interesting cultural assets are Chile’s artists. We have great artists, both from the past and present, that need to be discovered by international audiences, and there are many alternative and emergent spaces, and some not so alternative, that are exhibiting these works, such as Sagrada Mercancía, Galería Metropolitana, Galería Gabriela Mistral, as well as some interesting pop-up spaces that have appeared recently.

Why do you think people should attend to Ch.ACO’s 10-year anniversary?

As the Director of AMA Foundation, I also want people to come because we are also celebrating our 10-year anniversary! But on a serious note, Ch.ACO has so much to offer; you really get to see the work, meet the artists and gallerists. Chile’s best offer is its’ people, and by getting to know them, you get a great sense of the country, its history and its art. I think boutique fairs like Ch.ACO are very beneficial for a first time visitor, because you get a chance to really appreciate the art offer and interact with key agents, without the anxiety that larger fairs produce.