Liliana Zapata (Just Mag Premio Joven 2014 )
20th February – 15th March 2015
This exhibition reveals the result of the recent research carried out by Liliana Zapata, a young artist whose work establishes a new way to approach Bolivian art and other reading matter of social, political and cultural phenomena that permeate it, and with which it interacts in diverse formats that range from dialogue, to interpellation or critique.
But beyond the Bolivian context, the exhibition is far from being a local and self-referential exposition. The work of Zapata focuses on the technical and poetical challenges of a cultural transaction that she herself experiences on a daily basis, without escaping dualities, incognitos and simultaneity.
Zapata, one of the artists with the most consolidated and consistent production of her generation, knows how to decipher the codes of contemporary art from a context where changes occur quickly. In a country where the brightness of an almost primary colour prevails, Zapata establishes herself on the white edges of the mountains that surround her city of origin, La Paz. In her delicate structures, the planes are reduced to thin knife incisions that fold to form micro-sculptures.
From the very beginning of her artistic career, her body of work has focused on the questioning of the sculptural practice. Behind the ambiguous nature of her objects lie aesthetic ambitions that incorporate shapes taken from reality to remind us that other worlds do exist. Zapata’s work is objectual and conceptual at the same time; it is in permanent contrast and dialogue with the organic and the artificial, the natural and the scientific, the human and the worldly. Both micro and macroscopic appear embodied in different supports, including clay, metal and paper of different origin. Her meticulous syntax process creates a special calligraphy, depersonalized and also intimate, made of obsessive repetitions.
Lumen of spaces. Limited-unlimited endless forms
Zapata’s work is made up of sculptural bodies whose materiality is pierced by very thin incisions and their pure minimal appearance opens up to timeless spaces. Large sheets of paper curl up to escape the floor in a slight white silence. The structure challenges gravity and it contours in the timeless space, as if inspired by a puff of air. These constructions turn into signs and figures that outline open diagrams, which echo in space like faraway fluttering filled with absence. Clear proof of Zapata’s manual dexterity can be seen in the delicate cuts that are drawn to the geometric shapes of the folds of the paper and the games of light and shadows that hint at metaphors of certain scientific principles.
Shaping transformations. Origin and disappearance
The formal and chromatic economy of this impressive work brings forth poetical meditations. As if impaled by the wind –that gives them corporality by means of geometric movements and topological exercises-, these pieces energize the void and create space. The multitude of practices and models that Liliana Zapata reproduces at her own work desk, give rise to the origin and the “disappearance” of her creations that are very often monumental and other times almost invisible. The corporeality of the sculptural piece has legitimized the ontological nature of the sculpture; however, Zapata’s sculptural perception inhabits a place of construction and demolition where the emotional truth has the same soundness as a scientific fact.
Configuration of shadows. Sense of light: body of the colour
The colour experience has been almost an exclusive element of the painting, but in Zapata the colour is one dimension that is incorporated into the structure of space and time. The beauty in the configuration of shadows in her photographs and installations, the light and the darkness, produce a colour experience of complex images, heavy structures and geometric framework. These drawings created by the shadows hint at strange writing or undecipherable signs that blur the frontier between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional. We blend into this immaculate white landscape as ‘the ideal colour-light or synthesis-light of all colours (1).
Three-dimensionality of the two-dimensional. Portraits of gravity
Sculpture and photography come together in a complex story of the relationship between both mediums. Sculptors have used photography since it was invented to explore their own ideas about works of art and to channel the way in which others perceive them. Zapata transfers her paper scale models to metal to photograph them, so they then take on a type of weightlessness, like that which Calvino speaks of (2). Sculptures born from paper to be metal and photographed to return to paper, without possible reference to the identity scale; a different strategy to convert structure into surface and volume online to change the weight of the world in which we live. Brancusi said that sculpture is not an art for the young; nevertheless Zapata shows us an early domain of sculpture in its form and concept, with sights set on a horizon of new thoughts.
(1) Helio Oiticica, Metascheme 57/58, Galería Ralph Camargo, Sao Paulo, 1972.
(2) Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1990.