Chilean artists inaugurate exhibition in London’s Saatchi Gallery

The show, named Tectonic Shift: Contemporary Art from Chile, is being presented in the prestigious London art centre which was founded by Damien Hirst.


A show opened this Jan. 13 in the Saatchi Gallery – one of London’s most famous locations for modern art – especially dedicated to works originating from Chile.

Works by 12 Chilean artists Magdalena Atria, Catalina Bauer, Paz Errázuriz, Josefina Guilisasti, Cristóbal Lehyt, Livia Marín, Alvaro Oyarzún, Gerardo Pulido, Tomás Rivas, Pablo Rivera, Malú Stewart and Cristián Silva S, were put on display in London’s prestigious exhibition house located on Kings Road in the wealthy Chelsea district.

The works are from the collection of Chilean curator Juan Yarur, who at 26 is the youngest member of the Latin American Acquisitions Committee at Tate Modern.

Chilean art has gained an energy from the emergence of this group,” reckons Yarur. “We are in front of a remarkable group of artists that, through their talent and vision, are able to show us Chile in unexpected and fascinating ways.

“Ours is a country that is as beautiful as it is complicated, with a difficult social and political history, and a landscape that – as the title of this exhibition suggests – never rests. I feel honoured to be able to provide the pieces to make such an important exhibition.”

Latin American art has often in the past been viewed through Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Cecilia Brunson, the show curator who has spent a decade working with the artists, praised Yarur for extending the contemporary art horizon.

The artists had to learn to survive in Chile’s new neoliberal ethos and come to terms with the existing globalizing artistic practices of the 1990s” she said in an interview with British online art resource, Culture24.  “All of the artists included in Tectonic Shifts managed, in their own way, to break out of this cultural stalemate to find their own voice outside the imposing legacy of the earlier generation.”

The works feature Catalina Bauer’s Column, a tower of 80 kilos of red and white knitted rubber bands; Magdalena Atria’s Smiling Desperately, a giant sphere suspended from the ceiling made of toothpicks and craft modeling clay; and a work by Livia Marín which features a set of 2,000 lipsticks and a series of doodles.

Brunson says the images, which are woven together like natural structures, can be seen as “an almost sociogeographic view” of life in Chile, what she calls a “geographical freak of a country.”

The exhibition was housed in the Saatchi Gallery until Jan. 16, and then moved to Phillips de Pury & Company until Jan. 28 2011.

For more information on contemporary Chilean art, visit the online Museum of Contemporary Chilean Art, MOCCA, an independent English-language resource created with the objective of promoting contemporary Chilean artists who, otherwise, would have a difficult time showing and selling their work abroad.