5 Latin American artists participating at the 57th Venice Biennale, Viva Arte Viva

Posted on July - 6 - 2017

This year the Venice Biennale is hosting its 57th edition, making it the oldest and most experienced of all the other art fairs out there. In comparison with the previous edition of the Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor who had a grand agenda bordering more on big sociopolitical subjects with an academic tone. Viva Arte Viva, molded by curator Christine Macel felt like a more lighthearted take on the prestigious event, with the intention of highlighting the greatness of art, and especially, artists. Specific Pavillions were created among them the Pavillion of Shamans, Colors, and Commons in the hopes of arranging the artworks with related themes. Latin American artists are present as always, and their work has gained much attention from fairgoers and the international community. Among them were Mexicans Cynthia Gutiérrez and Gabriel Orozco, Chilean Enrique Ramírez and the late Juan Downey, Argentinian Martín Cordiano, Sebastián Díaz Morales, Nicolás García Uriburu and Liliana Porter, Colombian Marcos Ávila Forero, Brazilian Ernesto Neto, Cuban Zilia Sánchez and the Guatemalan Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa. Here is a list of 5 artists whose works shine and inspire the audiences.

Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa, Guatemala

The Guatemalan artist’s star has been rising for some time now, and the work of the artist has gained the attention of international curators and institutions, including the Tate Modern. Known for his arresting performances, video art, and installations, Ramirez-Figueroa presented Third Lung at the Pavillion of Shamans, an interactive healing installation, made out of hanging structures that resemble organic lungs. As part of his performance, the artist played ceramic wind instruments with a group of people and recorded it.

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa “Third Lung”. Photo Credits: Gabriel Rodriguez

Gabriel Orozco, Mexico

Another artist close to home, that never fails to astound with his refined lines and unexpected trickeries. In 1993 a surprised public at the Biennale reacted towards his enigmatic and simplistic work Empty Shoe Box, either with disappointment or total confusion. On this occasion with a bigger installation, curated by Christine Macel, who has worked closely with the artists before, the work shows a more recognizable aspect of Orozco’s visual vocabulary. Located in the Pavilion of Traditions, Orozco compiled a monochromatic assemblage consisting of objects of value from Japan, on top of an old Japanese structure, stressing the relationship between the notions of value across borders.

Gabriel Orozco “Visible Labor”. Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Rodriguez

Zilia Sánchez, Cuba

The Cuban artist born in 1928, differs from the rest of the participants as what she presents is a compilation of her work created throughout her career, specifically from the 60’s to the 90’s. Her work has taken the personal outtake on formal abstraction, and as the artists managed to take a distinctive approach to the style, her curvaceous works ooze sensuality and juxtapose the feminine with masculine components. Her style sets her apart, consisting of a reduced pallete of colors that shape her simple canvases. Subtle but cheeky, her paintings invite the spectator to be an accomplice of their smooth curves and silent erotism.

Zilia Sánchez “Eros”. Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Rodriguez

Zilia Sánchez “Las Troyanas”. Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Rodriguez

Ernesto Neto, Brazil

As one of the big names of Brazilian and Latin-American contemporary art scene, Ernest Neto needs no previous introduction, and is neither a newcomer to the Biennale. Known for his biomorphic installations made out of malleable materials, Neto never fails to involve his audience and submerge them in fabricated environments. In A Sacred Place he takes from the Hui Kuin Indians of the Amazons, the concept of “Cupixawa,” a place of sociality and rituals, aimed at making the participants aware of their connection with nature and better their relations with society and themselves. This sacred place invites spectators to immerse themselves in this created place, where they can imagine a better version of society and themselves.

Ernesto Neto “A Sacred Place”. Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Rodriguez

Marcos Ávila Forero, French-Colombian

The French-Colombian artist is known for his engaging work, which includes individuals, and a political context, where the often-troublesome relationship between both is stressed and rethought. The work he presented at the Biennale titled Atrato (2014) takes place in the river that bears the same name, whose waters help define the Colombian Amazonia. While spending time in its dense jungles, Ávila Forero collaborated with locals of Afro-Colombian ascendance, who historically have settled around the river. As part of his research, the artists found percussion techniques in Congo that are similar to the ones lost by this groups in Colombia and made them reenact them by playing the water as an instrument and thus reinforcing the relationship between Latin America and Africa.

By: Gabriela Martinez de la Hoz

Marcos Ávila Forero. Photo Courtesy: Gabriel Rodriguez