Latin American Art: Contexts and Accomplices
27th Jan 2004 - 21st Mar 2004
Latin American Art: Contexts and Accomplices was a Special Exhibition from the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art, which opened at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts on Tuesday 27 January 2004.
Chair in Taquile, Peru
Sun and Mystery over Silence
This extraordinarily diverse exhibition explored the dynamic relationship between contemporary and indigenous art in Latin America. It showed how modern artists have crossed the centuries to become accomplices with their pre-columbian forefathers.
Works in Latin American Art: Contexts and Accomplices were taken from The University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art (UECLAA), the greatest collection of contemporary Latin American art in Europe. These were put into context alongside pre-columbian works from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection.
In 1921, David Alfaro Siqueiros, a revolutionary, soldier, writer and one of the major Mexican painters of the twentieth century, famously declared that modern artists in America should embrace the constructive vitality of pre-columbian art. He also warned them to avoid at all costs literal, nostalgic or picturesque reconstructions of the past. Latin American Art: Contexts and Accomplices explores these concerns.
Nardín Ospina confronts these ideas head-on by recreating ancient stone idols in the form of modern icons such as Mickey Mouse or Homer Simpson. Rufino Tamayo, by contrast, creates a vivid portrait gallery of types and characters from the ancient past.
Although we think of 'abstract art' as a modern term, the formal, abstract, geometric and constructive qualities of the carving, textiles and architecture of pre-columbian civilisations have been source and inspiration for many artists.
Latin American Art: Contexts and Accomplices also showed how contemporary Latin American artists have drawn on the imagery and ideas of pre-columbian and popular art. Today, pottery, tiles, cloth, tin, wood and found objects, materials commonly associated with craft practices, are as much the province of the avant-garde as of the local artist. At this exhibition, you could see for yourself how indigenous textile traditions re-echo in contemporary work.