Crossing Cultural Boundaries: Iran and Colombia Come Together in Bogotá at Beatriz Esguerra Art
By Bridget Gleeson
Oct 13, 2014 6:25 pm

On first consideration, there might be no obvious link between Colombia and Iran. But as Beatriz Esguerra Art’s newest group exhibit proves, fine arts can transcend cultural boundaries, connecting seemingly disparate groups with a shared theme. This year, at ARTBO 2014, the gallery presents the work of eight artists—seven Colombians and one Iranian—united in their attention to concept, color, and light, and their choice of materials, including sand, wax, thread, oil, and found objects. 

The booth’s star attraction is, naturally, the group’s sole outsider: Hadi Tabatabai. Born in Mashhad, Iran, in 1964, Tabatabai emigrated to the United States in 1977, where he received formal education in both industrial technology and painting—a background that informs his mixed-media drawing, painting, and sculpture compositions. Employing various materials from slate, wood, and paint to thread and wax, Tabatabai creates sculptural geometric works that play with the themes of time, place, and perception. His floating lines and shapes, and the stark absence of conventional details like figures or boundaries, challenge the viewer to consider limits, where things start and end. For Tabatabai, a line is “empty space without an agenda or allegiance; it is neither here nor there.”

This question of location—and the use of tactile materials to express the philosophical questions that surround it—is a theme that runs throughout the work of the seven Colombian artists that are on display alongside Tabatabai’s compositions. For Carviews, Max-Steven Grossman photographed road landscapes in Bogotá, New York, São Paulo, and Cape Town, but due to the quick capture and low shutter speed, the specific locations are blurred to the viewer, the places only identifiable through the works’ titles. Aníbal Gomescasseres, like Tabatabai, eliminates the human figure from his “Light Atmospheres”series, using the absence to raise questions about social behavior and the relationship between people and space. And in the paintings of Santiago Uribe-Holguin, abstract shapes, floating and ungrounded by boundaries, remind the viewer of the earth itself, the timeless beauty of its surfaces and the comparatively transient nature of human life. 

Uribe-Holguin is one of Colombia’s most famous modern artists. But thanks to the gallery’s careful curation, his work fits seamlessly into a thematic showing—also prominently featuring artists Carlos AlarcónCarolina ConversPedro Ruiz, and Elsa Zambrano—that’s well worth seeking out at the tenth edition of ARTBO.

—Bridget Gleeson


Visit Beatriz Esguerra Art at ARTBO 2014, Booth 305, Bogotá, Colombia, October 24-27.

Explore ARTBO 2014 on Artsy.