Opening: Friday 24 August 2012, 6-8PM
Gertrude Contemporary was pleased to present an exhibition curated by Colombian curator José Roca. The exhibition was part of an international six-part project showcasing Colombian art, the first exhibition of its kind in Melbourne. Irregular Hexagon was Roca’s examination of a group of Colombian artists working in an international context, where each artist draws on the social and political issues embedded within Latin American and particularly Colombian society in their work. Roca suggested that the selection of artists represents an “interesting cross-section of what is being done within the plural and vibrant contemporary art scene in Colombia”.
Irregular Hexagon was a multi-venue project, which, in addition to its exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary, was shown in Morocco, Israel, Turkey, Singapore and Vietnam. The structure of the project was such that each Colombian artist conducted a short-term residency in two locations, and each venue hosted two artists per exhibition. These short-term residencies offered the opportunity for the participating artists to make new work for the project, and also the opportunity to explore the exhibition’s context.
The 6 artists in the project, Irregular Hexagon, across all venues, were María José Arjona, Johanna Calle, Luz Ángela Lizarazo, Mateo López, Delcy Morelos and Gabriel Sierra. Irregular Hexagon at Gertrude Contemporary featured work by Delcy Morelos and Gabriel Sierra. Delcy Morelos undertook a four-week residency to make new work in Melbourne as part of her participation in the project.
Delcy Morelos’ work describes the tense interplay between matter, colour and the body, where variations in skin tones and illustrations of viscera describe explosions of violence embedded within her paintings. Each work is comprised of layer upon layer of diluted pigments, which are applied over months in order to build up the surface of the work. Morelos’ interest in the history of Minimalism is constantly at play. The relationship between the abstract in the visible and the limits of the recognisible underpins each work. More recently Morelos’ paintings had become sculptural, with the painted canvas, cut, deconstructed and again reconstructed, often in threedimensional forms. In these works, the materiality of painting operates as metaphor for how the body is constituted, constricted and contained.
Drawing on Colombian popular culture, cultural particularities, customs, gestures and commonly held beliefs, Gabriel Sierra
creates domestic and site specific objects and installations which employ design and construction to communicate the poetry of intervention. Combining references to the history of art and design with vernacular traditions, the work is often imbued with humour, a sense of the absurd and the enigmatic. Sierra’s ‘para-functional’ objects and interventions invite the audience to interact and engage with the objects in order to restore their use and function within the gallery space. Hang it all-Stepmother Nature (2006) takes Charles and Ray Eames’ iconic modernist design and turns it into a fruit rack; whereas Shadow for a lightbulb that accompanies solitary people (2003) playfully subverts the fear of shadows, where Sierra has applied a cardboard stencil of a face to a bare light bulb, as a device to provide a reassuring presence. The various intersections between Delcy Morelos and Gabriel Sierra’s practices speak to the simplicity and economy of form within the communication of radical gesture.
Irregular Hexagon was co-produced by Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño (Department of Culture, Recreation and Sports Bogota) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, who presented this initiative with the intention of increasing the presence of Colombia in countries where new diplomatic relations are being created or reinforced, by allowing the interaction between contemporary Colombian artists and foreign avant-garde artistic movements.