Seen - Unseen

Works by London-based artists from Latin America

About the exhibition
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The exhibition ‘Seen Unseen’ features works by two artists from Latin America who have made London their home. Lucia Pizzani’s photographs and ceramics and Chino Soria’s lenticular prints and paintings seem to open up questions about the nature of the visible. A delicate balance exists between what we are allowed to see in these images and objects, and by contrast what remains concealed within them, that seduces us to imagine the unseen.

In broad terms, Lucia Pizzani’s work addresses an array of conceptual concerns encompassing the ephemeral nature of life, the visibility/invisibility of the female body, the history of feminism and biology, which she studied in her youth. Remarkably, these interests are poetically interwoven in her photographs from the Impronta Series, which suggest the transformation of the unattractive cocoon into a butterfly, the most graceful of living creatures. Her experimental approach to photography, which she explores by using 19th century image production methods such as collodion wet plate process, is both a homage to the history of mechanical reproduction and an achievement in opulent materiality.

Her ceramic sculptures from the series Capullos / Cocoons are delicately glazed with luminescent effects to evoke butterfly wings or orchid petals, appearing as equivocal organic forms that elicit uncanny insects, or even the voluptuous fleshiness of genitalia. These small pieces are made to measure: the body seems to be their template. Considering the artist’ sustained exploration of performance and video as research into the body as sculptural form, her physical imprint manifests in this instance by means of scaling up and down.  Following such logic, the ceramics are capable of nesting in our hands and by analogy a person hiding inside the fabric envelopes becomes an enlarged vision of a mysterious bug in search of reincarnation. These poignant images originally produced in small format plates, are subsequently blown up to resemble ethnographic vintage prints.

A persistent reference to vessels throughout her practice incites expressive connections with the inside and outside of the body that in this series are carefully articulated to infuse her imagery with tantalizing mystery.

Chino Soria’s background in architecture, a discipline governed by the impulse to order the world from a basic set of rules as an attempt to conquer space, seems to contrast with his Informalist approach to making art. Not only in the act of painting but also in his expansive installations made of found materials, he seems to eschew methodologies and to allow visual structures to emerge from his unconscious, letting images materialize with a physicality made of rhythm and colour. Thus his painting method recalls the improvisational impulse of a jazz jam session: precisely articulated forms and rigorous composition values appear effortless in his pursue of harmony.

At the same time and as a nod to Constructivism, his works encompass a philosophical attitude that links aesthetics to social advancement, by means of privileging the participation of the spectator in the completion of the work and therefore activating and empowering its audiences. Such is the case of the lenticular prints, where one image generates a number of sister images by virtue of the viewer’s movement in front of the work. This principle, employed widely by international artists interested in optical effects, was the basis of a remarkable Latin American movement from the 1960’s: Kineticism. Spearheaded by Venezuelan artists Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Soto’s theories of colour, this artistic philosophy produced a revolution in the study of perception that continues to inspire generations of artists around the world.

© Gabriela Salgado

About the curator

Gabriela Salgado is an Argentine-born curator and consultant based in London, UK. She holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art. She has curated a large number of exhibitions and has lectured in over twenty countries. She specialized in Latin American art as curator of the Collection of Latin American Art at Essex University, UECLAA (1999-2005) and was curator of Public Programmes at Tate Modern (2006 -2011). She curated La Otra Bienal in Bogotá, Colombia (2013) and the 2nd Biennale of Thessaloniki, Greece (2009) and is a member of the prestigious Prince Claus Fund Awards Committee. She has published essays on the work of contemporary artists including Carlos Cruz Diez, León Ferrari, Julio Le Parc, Mad for Real, Studio Orta and Grzegorz Klaman. She wrote the catalogue for the exhibition Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America at the Saatchi Gallery in London. She works internationally and is currently directing a programme of artistic exchanges for African and Latin American artists.