ARTBO opens next week in Bogotá, and while it will host 66 galleries from around the globe, the fair maintains a special focus on local artists, as well as those from neighboring Latin American countries. Here, we present seven artists, four of which are from Colombia, to look out for at the fair.
Venezuelan artist Ricardo Alcaide’s main interest lies in architecture and the interactions that individuals within various societies may have with it. Having lived in four different major cities around the globe—Caracas, London, Madrid, and São Paulo—Alcaide approaches his work with a broad appreciation for the various environments that exist, both socially and economically. Whether he is manipulating photographs with paint and other materials, creating sculptures, or painting, Alcaide constructs new perspectives of the walls built within and around society, with a focus on the precarious nature of all dwellings and the ways in which they both shelter and divide people. Alcaide takes a particular interest in the under-recognized Latin American modernist movement in architecture. Previously, Alcaide has presented solo exhibitions at Baró Galeria, in addition to producing a project for Pinta NY and participating in the SOLO section at ArtRio in 2013.
Hailing from Montevideo, Uruguay, and now based in Mexico City, Ana Bidart creates artworks from desechos, or “residues.” Bidart draws inspiration from her past experiences working behind the scenes at art fairs and biennials, where she witnessed the many essential, yet invisible, objects that go into the production of such large-scale presentations of art. Barcodes, tracking numbers, shipping details, artwork passports, plastic bags, and tape all become art in Bidart’s hands, transformed from disposable items into visually arresting works. Bidart has an exceptionally steady hand for drawing as well, illustrating delicate, meandering lines onto rolls of paper or, as in the works available at ARTBO, onto domestic shipping envelopes. The rainbow-colored waves in her “Domestic Only” series are reminiscent of a seismograph, charting the widespread impact of one isolated moment—much like the artwork traveling in the envelope, expanding beyond its origin to new audiences. Bidart’s work was shown last year in the group exhibition “Autocorrect” at Josée Bienvenu Gallery.
Inspired by fairy tales, mythology, classic works of art, and Colombia’s history, photographer Adriana Duque captures dream-like images of young children, whom she prefers as subjects for their ability to disconnect from real life and indulge in fantasy. Featured at ARTBO is a work from her “Icons” series—shown this past spring at Zipper Galeria in São Paulo—a collection of photographs whose distinctive style references the baroque Spanish art that overtook local artistic traditions during the harsh colonization of Latin America. In “Icons,” girls are dressed in sumptuous, regal garb, each wearing a golden, gem-encrusted set of headphones, which serves as an anachronistic accessory allowing them to tune out from the troubles of the world. In the background of the larger portraits, behind all the drapery and pomp, glimpses of unrefined country kitchens are visible—silent reminders of the reality that awaits when the dream ends.
Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira creates mammoth wooden sculptures that bulge and wind around themselves as if naturally occurring; his installations evoke strange and wonderful forests, where trees grow sideways, twisted and warped, pushing through walls and integrating themselves into the space. His smaller works reanimate ordinary pieces of furniture as swollen, expanding organisms, bursting out of the confines of design to return to a more organic state. Oliveira uses recycled materials, layering wood siding typically found on construction sites over a cage-like framework. Most recently, he filled the Museu de Arte Contemporáneo in São Paulo with his largest installation to date, titled “Transarquitetônica,” a dizzying network of tunnels that visitors were welcome to enter and explore.
Nominated in 2010 for the Premio Luis Caballero, the top prize for artists under 35 in his native Colombia, Camilo Restrepo received a Fulbright Grant that same year and has gone on to build a vibrant body of work that directly addresses contemporary issues within Colombian society and the world at large. With ink, wax pastels, and miscellaneous other media (such as newspaper clippings, tape, and sometimes saliva), Restrepo illustrates wild, cartoonish scenes, whose colorful appearance and absurd characters belie their serious subject matter. In recent drawings, including those presented at UNTITLED - Miami Beach in December 2013, Restrepo has taken on the drug trade and related crime that continues to plague Colombia. His series “A Land Reform” pulls the aliases used by traffickers, criminal bands, and guerrilla groups—often names of cartoon characters, celebrities, animals, or big brands—and interprets them literally in chaotic scenes, made more hectic still by interlacing red lines that connect newspaper clippings with their visual representations. These aliases are further explored in Restrepo’s “Los Caprichos,” a series of caricature-like portraits depicting certain ones individually; the garish portraits, along with the larger tableaux, serve to expose the endlessly compounded complexities and ultimate absurdity of the drug war.
Ruby Rumié’s recent project, “Hálito Divino” (or “Divine Breath”), currently on view in full at Nohra Haime in New York, originated in the neighborhood of Getsemani in the artist’s home city, Cartagena, Colombia. Rumié is interested in psychology and social issues, with a focus on the role of the artist within society. In this vein, she conducted a workshop with 100 local women, aged between 18 and 72, all of whom had been victims of domestic abuse at some point in their lives. Each pot in “Hálito Divino” contains the exhaled breath of one woman, captured during the workshop in an exercise to release pain and begin the healing process. The pots were then sealed, initialed, and topped with golden metal figurines, similar to the figurines given to each participant as a memento.
Bogotá native Elsa Zambrano’s recent works, her “museo imaginario,” which were exhibited in 2013 at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO), function as portals into the artist’s past travels and memories. Zambrano made a hobby of collecting postcards and tiny replica statues from museum shops after visiting; she assembles these objects in open-faced boxes, recreating museum galleries and freezing in time the cities she toured around the world. The portable “museums” reflect on the commercialization of art, packaging masterpieces into pocket-sized moments and raising common souvenirs to the level of high art.