When we keep looking at the world from the same point of view, we learn nothing new.
As we walk the same route by the same buildings, we may only notice their facades. If we only get to know an individual in the professional setting, we may not get to fully understand as a person. If we only look at the horizon, we might not notice the curvature of the Earth. And if we only rely on experiencing the world around us with our own eyes, we might miss an opportunity to learn how others see the same world.
In this exhibition, we collected paintings from several contemporary Chilean artists, who either call Chile home today or note their Chilean roots, while they create outside of South America.
The artists and their work in this exhibit show us their vision of the seemingly mundane subjects we encounter in our lives, be it the snippets from the news or what one sees in the streets. The art touches upon homelessness, the global pandemic, a great political divide, as well as melting pot of cultures with culture clashes. Yet, these artists have a different perspective, a different, intriguing viewpoint that they communicate to us through the visual language.
Brexit Consequence. Oil on canvas, 2019
Lobsang Durney is a contemporary Chilean artist from Valparaiso, Chile, who currently resides in Barcelona, Spain. In his work, he focuses on painting post-apocalyptic surrealist worlds, where he mixes realistic and imaginary subjects and storylines.
Although he does not reside in the United Kingdom, Lobsang’s perspective on the Brexit events is insightful and knowledgeable. Using the images of Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister in the 1980s) along with a dilapidated double-decker London bus, he is seemingly connecting the UK’s past and his predicted future with the Brexit in-between.
Luces Invisibles. Oil on canvas, 2018
Born in Santiago in 1964, Eduardo Mena is a self-taught Chilean artist. Mena alternates his residence between Valparaiso and Santiago in Chile and Mexico, where he extensively exhibits his works. In his art, he often depicts port cities along the Pacific coast of Chile, exploring the various boundaries between the sea and the land. His primary subjects are “porteños”, or port city people in Spanish.
While we might not think of that, but we, the residents of San Francisco are also porteños. We’re a mix of people who came to this port city from different parts of the world. We, porteños, create a melting point of cultures and one may say that we are probably more accepting of other cultures than those that live in-land. We, as porteños, are moved by the ocean, its depth and vastness.
Floating Future. Acrylic on canvas, 2020
Cristina Vera Aguilar
Cristina Vera Aguilar is a contemporary Chilean artist from Concepcion, Chile. Cristina Vera comes from an artistic family - both her grandfather and her mother are accomplished artists. She still resides in Concepcion, and her art is influenced by the natural beauty of central Chile and its Pacific coastline. In her work, she focuses on the spiritual and mystic side of the natural environment around us.
Cristina Vera painted this artwork during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. Chile was one of the world's worst hit by the pandemic, with some of the highest infection and fatality rates. In this work, Cristina depicts our visual world during the pandemic: the polychrome world is just a narrow line in the otherwise black painting. Just a narrow strip of life we've all been limited to in these times.
Refugio. Watercolor on paper, 2017
Luis “Beto” Martinez
Beto Martinez is an accomplished Chilean artist who currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He paints in oil and watercolors, typically depicting his subjects as grotesque, sometimes almost nightmarish human shapes.
Another American crisis that most of us are all familiar with is the crisis of illegal refugees. In this work, Beto is giving us yet another perspective, which is nevertheless very accurate. A family of three, a man, his wife, and their small son are naked, afraid, and crammed in a tiny transparent hemisphere, yet there is a tiny light above them. Their imperfect bodies, distorted faces, uncomfortable poses, and crammed in the smallest space make them so much more human.
Homeless. Acrylic on canvas, 2018
Chuchin Gutierrez is a contemporary Columbian-born artist who lives and works in Requinoa, Chile. He specializes in vivid, highly graphic, graffiti-inspired compositions. Chuchin defines his art as Neo-Expressionism, Marginales Art, and Art Brutal.
In this painting, Chuchin painted portraits of three homeless people. Their disfigured faces, exaggerated features, sad and distanced eyes, dissonant colors highlight their misfortunes and difficult lives.
There is a big debate in San Francisco on how to handle our homeless crisis. And although different methods are proposed to solve the crisis, the consensus is still to remove the homeless from our eyesight. Yet, in Chuchin’s work, they are the front center protagonists to be studied and understood. No less human than his other human subjects.
One World, Multiple Perspectives
In this exhibition, we presented five contemporary Chilean artists. The selected works focus on contemporary issues that most of us are familiar with. The same issues we have opinions on, we have read about and most likely, we have seen them addressed from our own, while living in the U.S.
At the beginning, we noted that if we look at issues only from a single perspective, we may learn nothing in. We would just maintain the same narrative, with the same view point. However, through these artworks we are presented with potentially similar points of views, and maybe even similar language, both verbal and visual.
Nonetheless, one question remains:
Do these Chilean artists see something that we don’t?