Chilean artists to take centre stage at exhibition in U.K.

Groundbreaking use of ‘poetic conceptualism’ at a London gallery adds further global acclaim to Chilean contemporary art.

Six Chilean contemporary artists are about to break onto the international scene and have their artwork displayed at a respected London gallery this October.
Chilean curator Cecilia Brunson has chosen Eb & Flow gallery to showcase the talents of some of Chile’s most exciting artists in the exhibition “33 Degrees South: Contemporary Art from Chile.”
The exhibition is yet another example of how Chile is rapidly becoming a powerful force in contemporary art, not just in Latin America, but on a global scale.
The artwork of Tomás Rivas, Catalina Bauer, Josefina Guilisasti, Livia Marin, Gerardo Pulido and Malu Stewart falls under the genre of “poetic conceptualism,” a medium that uses visual metaphors like their verbal counterparts to evoke emotional response.
“I think this idea of poetic conceptualism is linked to what you can call postconceptual art in Chile,” Rivas told This Is Chile. “My generation grew up learning from an older generation of artists that were very politically and conceptually driven.”
“Those artists inspired us, but we have now created some distance from their ideas, moving to a freer place that allows for more individual expression,” Rivas added.
In the artists’ work, extraordinary results are obtained through the use of ordinary objects (wood, elastic bands, pipe cleaners). By evoking the fantastic via the mundane, the artists use the familiar as a touchstone to explore complex and abstract themes.
While the work is influenced by Chile’s democratic awakening in the early 90s, the ideas portrayed by these Chileans are universal, enabling the art to shrug off the monikers of “ethnic” and “traditional”.
Rivas said this is imperative, as Latin American artists strive to have their work viewed as stand alone contributions to the global artistic conversation, rather than pigeonholed into a postcolonial genre defined by socio-political statements.
“Art in Latin America is too complex and too diverse to be defined as ‘Latin American Art’,” Rivas said. “I think that people are beginning to understand that now, especially in the United States, where such a stigma no longer exists.”
Rivas said that the work of people such as Brunson, who has tirelessly championed the cause of Chilean artists, is transforming the contemporary art movement in Chile.
“When I was young, the art community in Chile was small and had a relatively narrow focus, and I felt I had to go abroad to grow as an artist,” Rivas said. “Things have changed rapidly over the past five years, as the standard is no longer set by a solitary group. This is healthy, and means Chile is a better place to be an artist.”
33 Degrees South (a reference to a latitudinal line that bisects Chile) will run for a month from October 9 to November 9.
By Angus McNeice