Juan Carlos Bendana Pinel on Art, Politics and the Growing Cultural Scene in Latin America

  • Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

    Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

Ch.ACO spoke with gallerist, art collector and diplomat Juan Carlos Bendana Pinel, owner of the Bendana Pinel Art Contemporain Gallery, in Paris, and part of the advisory committee of Ch.ACO’s 10th edition, to be held November 22nd through the 26th. Here, his interest for art with strong political messages, his views on the close relationship between the political-social situation in Latin America and its growing contemporary art scene, and Chilean talents that are making a name for themselves in the world.


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

Taking into account my previous life as diplomat and international consultant, I can’t let the presence of politics in art go unnoticed. That’s why, among the contemporary artworks that have impacted me the most, are those of Mona Hatoum, a multidisciplinary artist born in Beirut. Specifically "Nature morte aux grenades", a morgue-like table with colorful grenades made out of Murano glass placed on top. The artist is inspired by her environment and therefore creates pieces that motivate a profound reflection and incite the urge to question, both the objects used and the social and political situation around us, the final product resulting in a delicate yet very intense work of art.  

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

It seems to me that the current scene in Latin America is largely based on the ongoing investigation of identities, and culminates with domestic and regional issues, so it’s very much in line with the current social-political situation. By relating to these topics, Latin American artists have managed make a place for themselves in the international scene. Their recognition since the 1970s has been increasing and, likewise, international institutions and art galleries have shown more and more interest in the region.

What cultural news and interest do you think Chile offers?

Chile has a selection of artists that are globally recognized and attracting more and more attention, and really worth knowing. To mention a few: Sandra Vásquez de la Horra, Alfredo Jaar, Voluspa Jarpa, and Paz Errázuriz. Also, today there are many International-level exhibits going on in Santiago, such as Ai Weiwei and Yoko Ono in CorpArtes Museum, FEMSA Collection, amongst others. This places Chile as one of the key countries in the growing Latin American cultural scene.

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

Ch.ACO Art Fair is the only instance in which Chile’s most important galleries and a wide range of international galleries from all continents gather. That being said, it’s the best opportunity to visualize, in four days, what’s going on in the national and foreign scene. At the same time, it is the ideal moment for exchange between international collectors, professionals and art enthusiasts.