Colombian Artists at Sicardi

Recently (Jan 24) Sicardi Gallery in Houston opened a show curated by Colombian art historian Maria Iovino called “Transitional” featuring 8 young Colombian artists.
Many of us aren’t going to Houston anytime soon, but the gallery’s website provides a pretty good example of the works on offer.
Ranging from drawing to video and installation they provide a much needed glimpse into what at least some Colombian artists are up to. These include Maria Isabel Arango mining traditional fairy tales for a new take on old themes. Her Red Riding Hood shows someone with no interest in being a victim of some stupid animal. More Diana La Cazadora than innocent schoolgirl it provides a nice twist. Luisa Roa uses ink on paper to create strange forms in her Elephant Journey series while Adriana Salazar uses moving plants and motors to explore her individual vision. Teresa Curea uses pen and ink to create amusing drawings involving themes such as technology as well as more evocative subjects like nautilus. Nicolas Paris creates sculptures by in this case combining plastic figures with an American dime.
Curator Iovino suggests that these artists indicate a break from the past in Colombian art, which was perhaps previously more focused on the political, and points the way forward to something new.
I certainly don’t  disagree, but I think a salient point here is the extent to which many of these artists, though still relatively young, have traveled and exhibited internationally. Some are living or have lived abroad, and all, or almost all, seem to have been included in a variety of international exhibits. Artists tend to soak up all influences which come their way, and I think the huge number who have studied and worked in Europe, or the US or other countries as well as having an exposure to international art fairs like ARTBO in Colombia and access to others elsewherehas made a huge difference.
Many years ago there was a view, expressed by critics like Marta Traba, that an internationalization of style was, in fact, a kind of cultural imperialism imposed by the more economically developed countries of Europe and particularly the US, which dismissed art coming from so-called third world countries as unimportant and which demanded an obeisance to the more “accepted” visual theories and practices of the day. Well, she may have had a point, but it seems to me that what we now have is not the internationalization of style as much as the internationalization of the artist, who has perhaps earned advanced degrees, has traveled much, read much and has had access to an enormous amount of information all of which forms a part of his/her artistic expression.
Sicardi gallery has been extremely active in promoting Latin American artists and has a number of more internationally known Colombian artists in its gallery of artists. It is good to see what some of the next generation are up to these days.
The exhibition continues until March 16.-david sokolec


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