São Paulo

“Asymmetries and Convergences”

Asimetrías y convergencias” (Asymmetries and Convergences) was a group show, organized by María Iovino, of nineteen young Colombian artists who draw. According to Iovino, an independent curator in Bogotá, drawing has been the richest medium in Colombian art in recent years, and here she attempted to demonstrate its breadth as well as its investigation of the traditional concerns of the medium.

The exhibition’s text suggests, though, that the main idea was the blurring of media and disciplinary boundaries rather than drawing. This is borne out, for example, in Adriana Salazar’s Máquinas maleducadas (Impolite Machines), 2008, a clumsy machine that leaves wine stains on the floor as it tries to fill glasses. Carlos Bonil’s Idea corriente (Current Idea), 2009, entails an explicit relationship between drawing and sculpture as it extends lines painted on the wall into actual objects. Angélica Teuta’s Decoración para espacios claustrofóbicos (Decoration for Claustrophobic Interiors), 2009, is a hybrid work with paper cutouts, shadows, and projections of light.

Nonetheless, not enough of the works on hand efface the boundaries between traditional media to really flesh out the curator’s argument. Many of them are straightforward, self-contained drawings. For a number of artists Iovino has chosen, drawing plays a traditional role; capable of directness and simplicity, it is the medium most suited to expressing an immediate and specific idea. This exhibition should really have been framed as a comparative analysis, in the Colombian context, of the expanded field of drawing—that is, drawing whose existence intersects with other media—and autonomous drawing. The latter group of works could be divided in turn into two types: One is concerned with the possibilities of drawing as formal syntax; the other approaches its subjects and narratives almost naively, with a kind of intimacy. The first group includes the work of Gabriel Antolinez (Sobre el dibujo y el plano [On Drawing and Surface], 2001) and three pieces by Nicolás París (Doble faz [Double Face], 2007; 44 oficios de artistas [44 Artist Occupations], 2009; and Estrategias de resistencia [Strategies of Resistance], 2009), which constitute one of the most emblematic sets in the show: works that speak of the very act of drawing without compromising the essence of that act. Mónica Naranjo, on the other hand, is among the artists whose images deal with the private sphere through representation. Her Berlin Half-Stories, 2009, is a suite of sixty-five drawings with hints of narrative, pitched somewhere between the explicit and the poetic. Likewise, Kevin Simón Mancera’s small comic-book-influenced “Dibujos” (Drawings), 2009, consist of stories about or portraits of characters in specific, yet suggestive, situations.

The power of drawing to suggest meaning on the basis of precise images is found in Luisa Roa’s Lo que sueña un gato (What Does a Cat Dream Of), 2008, and César González’s animation Cerca (Close), 2008. Perhaps this is the most important, if not wholly intended, strain of the exhibition: It serves to counter the dated tendency to associate Colombian art with the literal representation of violence. Politics is not a major theme here, and where it is evoked, the implications are wonderfully oblique, as in Milena Bonilla’s El Capital. Manuscrito siniestro (Capital. Sinister Manuscript), 2009, Marx’s masterwork transcribed by a right-handed artist using her left hand.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.