• Squarecylinder Review Gonzalo Fuenmayor's EMPIRE May 2019

    Squarecylinder Reviews Gonzalo Fuenmayor's EMPIRE
    May 2019
    by Maria Porges

    A crepuscular gloom invests Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s charcoal drawings with a mood that is at once defiant and elegiac. His images, realized on an increasingly ambitious scale, offer viewers surreal and often disquieting visions, suggesting the ways in which stubborn residues of colonialism remain long after its demise.

    A Colombian by birth now living Florida, the artist has considered such questions before. In his last show here, several drawings incorporated palm trees or banana leaves and fruit—sometimes, picturing the vegetation as it invades elaborate Western interiors. Bananas, a strong presence in both shows, are reminders of the long history of the United Fruit Company’s meddling with Colombia’s economy and politics, bad behavior that regrettably continues into the neo-colonial present.

    In Empire, Fuenmayor deploys a variety of strategies to disrupt visual expectations — a “toolbelt” of bananas worn by a lissome nude female torso in The Tools of Prestigeor a palm tree intruding into an opulent 19th century theater in A Touch of Euforia. In the latter, the hallucinatory nature of the event is accentuated by the fact that the tonal values have been neatly inverted, as in a photographic negative. The normally dark interior is dominated by the white of the paper, with black accents. Only the tree, almost horizontal as it descends towards the seats, has been rendered in a “normal” tonality.

    A Touch of Euforia, 2019 | Charcoal on paper | 36 x 36"

    This tonal reversal, of black and white to white and black, is deployed with great success in several works, including, most dramatically, Imperial Dementia. This enormous diptych (90 x 104 inches) pictures Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room, its elaborately oppressive décor clearly designed to intimidate even important visitors to the English court. Fuenmayor transforms this scene into a through-the-looking-glass version of itself, in which the dark skin of the seated queen, featured in an enormous painting on the wall, is almost as riveting as the black bulbs on the crystal chandelier that emit shadows instead of light.

    In Cannibal Protocols, we see a state dining room similarly reversed, its long, satanically black tablecloth retreating into a mirrored distance. Like several other works in the show, this drawing is presented in a tondo (circular) format. This type of presentation has been popular intermittently since the 15th century, but with few exceptions (Damien Hirst, for one) is largely absent from contemporary art. Here, however, the drawings’ round shape seems to invoke something quite different from its Renaissance antecedents. They suggest the voyeuristic experience of looking through a peephole, a telephoto lens or even binoculars. We are either far away from what we are seeing (allowing us the illusion of distance, whether of time or space) or we are, in effect, spying.

    Cannibal Protocols, 2019 | Charcoal on paper | 36 x 36"

    This makes some of the images feel like an uneasy blend of the political and the pornographic, as in Encounter, which shows an ironically tropical version of Leda’s mythical rape by Zeus in the form of a swan. Fuenmayor’s twilit jungle scene features a startlingly big parrot astride a naked, simpering blonde whose resistance seems symbolic at best. Others, like those in which the image of a sinking palm tree figure prominently, feature tropical foliage inserting aggressively inserting itself into Western public spaces — theaters and museums – alluding to the often-painful process of trying to assimilate into Western culture.

    By far the most compelling of these round pictures, however, is The Beasts of Conscience. A running figure, its body engulfed in flames, moves through darkness, its head replaced with an inverted bunch of bananas. No background clues provide any indication of time or place, but this haunting image apparently originated with Fuenmayor’s 2013 invention of an imaginary Latin-American superhero called Bananaman. The flames are a reminder of the fiery origin of charcoal — Fuenmayor’s medium of choice. Another interpretation would be that this (super) human torch embodies all of the grotesquely inhuman behavior of colonial history. In the implacable drive towards hegemony, the artist reminds us, conscience goes up in flames.

    Cannibal Protocols, 2019 | Charcoal on paper | 36 x 36"

    Like an explorer, Fuenmayor seems to be standing at the edge of his known universe, as embodied by the dreamy, familiar surrealism of Magritte — to whom he pays overt homage in The Thrill of the Exotic III. It shows a bowler-hatted man whose face is obscured by a tropical bird instead of a dove. A work like The Monopoly of Patriotism, depicting a piano marooned in tall grass, pierced by hundreds of arrows, reminds us that the attempt to bring Western culture to so-called savages might not be working out as planned. (Mark Tansey’s acerbic commentaries on art history come to mind.) Of all these images, the burning figure of Bananaman, powerful beyond its modest scale, sums up well Fuenmayor’s vision of a post-colonial world in which the reverberations and consequences of the past will be brought into the light, one by one, to be reckoned with as best we can.

    # # #

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor, “Empire,” at Dolby Chadwick Gallery though June 1, 2019.

    About the author:

    Maria Porges is an artist and writer who lives and works in Oakland. For over two decades, her critical writing has appeared in many publications, including Artforum, Art in America, Sculpture, American Craft, Glass, the New York Times Book Review and many other publications. The author of more than 100 exhibition catalog essays, she presently serves a professor at California College of the Arts.

  • Empire Show at Dolby Chadwick Gallery -May 2019

    Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Empire, an exhibition of new works by Gonzalo Fuenmayor, on view from May 2 to June 1, 2019. Born in Colombia but resident in the United States for most of his adult life, Fuenmayor has cultivated a practice that explores processes of cultural assimilation, colonialization, and exoticization. Empire draws on these past through-lines while also advancing beyond to think through new tensions and, in the process, reconsidering the visual language of his charcoal-on-paper medium.

    This exhibition examines how we survive past empires, both political and personal. Though these empires today lie in ruins, their rules and structures often remain present, dictating norms and behaviors regardless of whether they are compatible with our professed contemporary values or ideal ways of being. Fuenmayor invites symbols of these past realms into his works and juxtaposes them with elements that oppose or resist. His goal is to set up complex matrices that instigate a thoughtful negotiation on the part of the viewer. How does the coming together of these disparate elements force one to look at the past’s impact on the present in new ways? How does it shift our expectations about our cultural and political realities as well as our individual emotional and psychological terrains?

    Several of the works in this exhibition are monumental in scale—new territory for Fuenmayor. He explains that his decision to “go big” was influenced by his understanding of how the outsize works of Barnett Newman and Robert Longo impress upon the bodies and spatial experiences of the viewer. As a result of working in such a large scale, however, the way Fuenmayor applies the charcoal has had to necessarily change. From afar, the drawings seem almost Pop or even Op in their photorealistic pretense; however, when viewed up close, the marks are painterly and brushlike, a departure from the tightly rendered compositions of earlier.

    In a work such as Imperial Dementia (2019), which is a massive 90 by 104 inches, scale serves a very particular, powerful purpose: it immerses the viewer, producing a sense of both embodiment and occupancy within the depicted space. The room itself is Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room, used by monarchs past and present to entertain guests. With its elaborate decoration—including ornate gilding and plush fabrics and furniture evocative of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English aesthetics—the room is a dazzling symbol of wealth and authority. And yet, something is off. The light values have been inverted so that we seem to be looking at something akin to a photographic negative: shadow is often conveyed via white space while what should be the highlighted surfaces of solid forms are rendered in blacks. Perhaps most striking, the glowing bulbs of the chandeliers are replaced by eerie inky orbs, a subject that Fuenmayor revisits in works such as Moral Darkness (2018). A mysterious, phantasmagoric effect is created through these cunning inversions of light into darkness and darkness into light, asking us to reconsider established moral hierarchies and claims of enlightenment and progress that those in power have made over the years.

    The push and pull between assimilation and exoticization figures heavily across the drawings. In Monopoly of Patriotism (2019), a piano lies prone in a grassy plain—a fresh kill pierced by scores of arrows. It is a complicated mise-en-scène, unique in that European culture, symbolized by the highbrow musical instrument, here becomes the hunted. Fuenmayor notes that this drawing was partly made in reaction to Werner Herzog’s 1982 film Fitzcarraldo, about a white Irish protagonist who dreams of bringing opera to the indigenous people of the Amazon. It is a story with an unsettling colonialist subtext, which Fuenmayor flips on its head as part of his larger project of inversion. Monopoly of Patriotism also references the work of the Cuban collective Los Carpinteros, who play with systems of visual syntax to stage contradictions, and the contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, known for his hanging installation of tigers and traditional fishing boats, among other objects, impaled by arrows.

    Fuenmayor’s drawings are never about just one thing. Even a subject that has become such an iconic image within his practice—the banana chandelier—is constantly evolving. In the aforementioned Moral Darkness, for example, light and dark are reversed, while in Pantomime (2018), the chandelier has crashed to the floor, limp and broken and yet defiantly still lit. Fuenmayor explains that Empire offers “different ways of exploring hybridity, opulence, and decadence by opening up ecosystems of possibilities.” Because the works pull in different directions, viewers can understand them as they wish. At their core, however, they are a collective “attempt to make something out of the ruins of past empires—empires that we’ve been negotiating throughout our entire lives.”

  • Empire in Spanish

    Empire in Spanish

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor
    Del 2 de mayo al 1 de junio de 2019
    Coctel de inauguración: jueves 2 de mayo, de 5 y 30 a 7 y 30 p.m.

    La Galería Dolby Chadwick se complace en anunciar Imperio, una exposición de las nuevas obras de Gonzalo Fuenmayor, desde el 2 de mayo hasta el 1 de junio de 2019. Nacido en Colombia pero residente en los Estados Unidos durante la mayor parte de su vida adulta, Fuenmayor ha cultivado la exploración de los procesos de asimilación cultural, colonización y “exotificación”. Imperio se inspira en estas líneas rectoras del pasado, a la vez que va más allá con el fin de elaborar nuevas tensiones y, en el proceso, replantearse el lenguaje visual de su medio: carboncillo sobre papel.

    Esta exposición examina la forma en que sobrevivimos a los imperios del pasado, tanto políticos como personales. Aunque estos imperios hoy yacen en ruinas, sus reglas y estructuras a menudo continúan presentes, estipulando normas y comportamientos, sin importar si son compatibles con nuestros declarados valores contemporáneos o formas ideales de ser. Fuenmayor convoca a estos símbolos de reinos pasados y los incorpora a sus obras, yuxtaponiendo a elementos que se oponen o resisten. Su objetivo es establecer matrices complejas que instiguen una negociación concienzuda por parte del espectador. ¿De qué manera la fusión de estos elementos dispares nos obliga a contemplar de otra forma el impacto del pasado en el presente? ¿Cómo cambia esto nuestras expectativas respecto a nuestras realidades culturales y políticas, así como a nuestras áreas emocionales y psicológicas individuales?

    Varias de las obras en esta exposición son de formato monumental: un nuevo territorio para Fuenmayor. Explica que la decisión que tomó al utilizar estos formatos fue influenciada cuando se dio cuenta de la forma en que las obras de grandes dimensiones de Barnett Newman y Robert Longo impresionan a los cuerpos y a las experiencias espaciales del espectador. Sin embargo, como resultado de sus trabajos de gran escala, la forma en que Fuenmayor aplica el carboncillo ha tenido que necesariamente cambiar. De lejos, los dibujos parecen como si pertenecieran a la tradición del arte Pop o, incluso, del Op, en su simulación fotorrealista; sin embargo, cuando se miran de cerca, los trazos son tan pictóricos que parecen pinceladas, un cambio con respecto a sus composiciones anteriores meticulosamente ejecutadas.

    En una obra monumental como Demencia imperial (2019), 90″ x 104″, el tamaño sirve para un propósito muy particular y poderoso: sumerge al espectador, produciéndole una sensación de encarnación y de toma de posesión dentro del espacio retratado. El espacio es el Salón Blanco del Palacio de Buckingham en Londres, utilizado por los monarcas pasados y presentes para agasajar a sus invitados. Con su muy elaborada decoración, que incluye ornamentos dorados, tapices de lujo y mobiliario evocador de la estética inglesa de los siglos XVIII y XIX, el salón es un símbolo deslumbrante de opulencia y poder. Y, sin embargo, hay algo extraño. Se han invertido los valores de la luz de modo que pareciera como si estuviéramos observando algo similar a un negativo fotográfico: las sombras a menudo se transmiten a través del espacio en blanco, mientras que aquéllas que debieran ser las superficies destacadas de las formas sólidas han sido ejecutadas en negro. Tal vez lo más llamativo sean las bombillas encendidas de las arañas que han sido reemplazadas por esferas negras espectrales, un tema recurrente en las obras de Fuenmayor, como en Oscuridad moral (2018). Se crea un efecto misterioso y fantasmagórico a través de estas astutas inversiones de la luz en oscuridad y de la oscuridad en luz, pidiéndonos que pensemos con detenimiento sobre las jerarquías morales establecidas y las pretensiones de ilustración y progreso que los detentadores del poder han hecho a lo largo de los años.

    El tira y afloja entre la asimilación y la “exotificación” figura ampliamente en todos los dibujos. En Monopolio del patriotismo (2019), un piano aparece reclinado en una verde llanura: una presa reciente atravesada por muchas flechas. Es una puesta en escena complicada, excepcional en que esa cultura europea, simbolizada por el instrumento musical culto, se convierte aquí en la presa. Fuenmayor señala que este dibujo lo hizo, en parte, como reacción a la película Fitzcarraldo (1982) de Werner Herzog, que relata los esfuerzos de su protagonista irlandés que sueña con llevar ópera a los pueblos indígenas de la Amazonía. Es una historia con un inquietante subtexto colonialista, que Fuenmayor pone de cabeza como parte de su proyecto más amplio de inversión de valores. Monopolio del patriotismo también hace alusión a la obra del colectivo cubano Los carpinteros, que juega con sistemas de sintaxis visual con el objeto de escenificar contradicciones, así como a Cai Guo-Qiang, el artista chino contemporáneo, conocido por sus instalaciones colgantes de tigres y barcos pesqueros tradicionales, entre otros objetos, traspasados por flechas.

    Los dibujos de Fuenmayor nunca tratan de una sola cosa. Incluso un tema que se ha convertido en una imagen tan emblemática en su carrera (la araña de luces con plátanos) está en constante evolución. En la antes mencionada Oscuridad moral, por ejemplo, la luz y la sombra aparecen invertidas, mientras que en Pantomima (2018), la araña, que se ha estrellado contra el suelo, aparece desmadejada y rota pero, a pesar de todo, provocadoramente iluminada. Fuenmayor explica que Imperio ofrece “diferentes formas de explorar la hibridez, la opulencia y la decadencia, mediante la oferta de ecosistemas de posibilidades”. Debido a que las obras presentan múltiples ofertas, los espectadores pueden interpretarlas como deseen. Sin embargo, fundamentalmente son un “intento colectivo de crear algo de las ruinas de imperios antiguos: aquellos imperios con que hemos estado tratando de lidiar todas nuestras vidas”.

    Traducido del inglés por Miguel Falquez-Certain

  • Todos tenemos nuestra Sombra

    Todos tenemos nuestra Sombra


    No bastará sino acercarse a las obras tituladas Las interferencias de la Historia y Todos tenemos nuestra Sombra -ambas presentes en esta exposición- para encontrarse con un trabajo con una presencia magnética y monumental. Pero Fuenmayor es mucho más que un adelantadísimo dibujante. En momentos donde es difícil hacer memoria de artistas que tengan la gran destreza de un trabajo ejecutado con pericia técnica, y a la vez algo importante que decir, sus obras se destacan. No solo la calidad del dibujo inquieta, también sus enigmáticas escenas que a veces con humor y algo de sarcasmo unen dos aspectos exuberantes y en apariencia contradictorios, reunidos en una sola imagen para detonar una serie de relaciones que constantemente nos confrontan y a la vez nos definen.

    Una exuberancia que parece romántica, rocambolesca, hedonista y cargada de esplendor, y otra que parece salvaje, agreste y espontánea. Una que proviene de las altas culturas europeas o las recientes y advenidas clases norteamericanas, y otra de un trópico mágico y folclórico. No deja de venir a la mente el imaginario que la vanguardia brasileña de inicios de siglo XX describía en su manifiesto antropófago: “Wagner se hunde ante las comparsas de Botafogo”. Esta sentencia bien podría ser el título de una de sus series trabajadas anteriormente entre dibujo y fotografía, donde de la desmesura de sus musas paradisiacas con sus racimos de bananos, cuelgan frondosas y destellantes lámparas de araña.

    El impacto visual entre dos esplendores tan radicalmente opuestos –la industria y el progreso, y la salvaje naturaleza- produce una sensación de absurdo oxímoron que parece el presagio dadaísta del conde de Lautréamont cuando dictaba la premonitaria clave de un ready-made: “bello como el encuentro fortuito, sobre una mesa de disección, de una máquina de coser y un paraguas”. Sin embargo, en Fuenmayor el encuentro no es fortuito sino concertado. En esas imágenes conviven dos aspectos de la historia que no pueden desligarse y que suponen la hibridación de nuestra cultura, porque la historia de la naturaleza es la historia de la sed de riqueza, así como el esplendor de unos es el exterminio de otros. Colonización, paisaje y cultura dependen entre sí inevitablemente, de forma que detrás de toda gran civilización hay una mancha que no puede ocultarse: todos tenemos nuestra sombra.

    Y si en sus carboncillos esta hibridación cultura se hace evidente de manera magistral en imágenes que fusionan una identidad propia con una global –Oh gloria, o Rethorical weapon-, es en el video Sisifo donde opera de manera más poética ese choque entre dos mundos. Aunque el hombre y sus milenios de civilizaciones -representados en un trozo de madera domesticado, modelado y ergonomicamente puesto al servicio de la cultura- procura soportar los embates de la naturaleza, es esta en su incesante y azaroso oleaje la que lo domina. Del encuentro entre la silla y el mar no queda más que un sempiterno roce entre dos fuerzas que se moldean la una a la otra.

    Y mientras en el mundo real ese supuesto progreso parece destinado a devorar la naturaleza y condenarnos al fin, la esperanzadora obra de Fuenmayor –como en el romanticismo de Turner o Caspar Friederich- es una vorágine que derrota los estertores de civilización. El poder queda invertido, y la imagen a veces responde volviéndose su negativo. El esplendor y desmesura del banquete en el interior de un palacio victoriano ha sido condenado a la penumbra, la fiera salvaje engulle al animal doméstico, y la manigua devora la ciudad.

    Como lo ha abordado con anterioridad en su previas investigaciones, en Todos tenemos nuestra sombra Fuenmayor reconsidera inteligentemente el exotismo del trópico, anula el color como su aspecto fundamental preconcebido y esperado, pone en conflicto la historia al contraponerla al territorio, y sobre todo, abraza con genialidad la desmesura del formato, de la selva y de la opulencia.

    Christian Padilla
    Historiador de arte y curador

  • We all have our Shadows

    We all have our Shadows

    We All Have Our Shadows

    It will suffice to come closer to the pieces titled “The Meddling of History” and “We All Have Our Shadows” (both included in this exhibition) to find oneself in front of a work, which is both magnetic and monumental. However, Fuenmayor is much more than a very talented draftsman. In times when it is difficult to remember artists who have great skills to carry out a job with technical expertise and, at the same time, something important to tell, his work stands out. Not only the quality of his drawings is intriguing, but also his enigmatic scenes which, sometimes with humor and a bit of sarcasm, connect two exuberant and apparently contradictory aspects, joined together in a single image, in order to trigger a series of associations that constantly confront and, simultaneously, define us.

    It is an exuberance that seems romantic, exaggerated, hedonistic, and full of grandeur, and another one that seems wild, rugged, and natural; one that comes from European high cultures or from the recent, upstart U.S. social classes, and another one from the magical, quaint tropics. It unremittingly brings to mind the repertoire of symbolic and conceptual elements the Brazilian avant-garde of the early Twentieth Century described in its “Cannibalistic Manifesto”: “Wagner founders in front of Botafogo’s soccer fans.” This dictum might as well be the title of one of his previous hybrid series made out of drawings and photography, in which luxuriant, dazzling chandeliers hang from blissfully self-abandoned muses and from their bunches of bananas.

    The visual impact between these two so radically different splendors (industry and progress, on the one hand, and wilderness, on the other) produces a sense of oxymoronic absurd, which reminds us of Count of Lautréamont’s Dadaist prediction when dictating the premonitory key of a ready-made: “As beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.” However, in the case of Fuenmayor this is not a chance encounter, but a premeditated one. In those images coexist two aspects of history that cannot be put asunder, presupposing the hybridization of our culture, because nature’s history is the history of the hunger for wealth, which entails bonanza for some people and extermination for others. Colonization, landscape and culture inevitably depend on one another, so that behind every great civilization there is a stain that cannot be hidden: We all have our shadows.

    And if in his charcoals this cultural hybridization becomes evident in a masterful way, through images that fuse a local identity with a global one (“Oh Glory,” or “Rhetorical Weapon”), it is in the video, “Sisyphus,” where the clash between two worlds operate in a more poetic way. Even though Man, and his millennia of civilizations (represented by a piece of domesticated wood, modeled and ergonomically put at the service of culture), tries to withstand the onslaughts of nature, it is nature, in its relentless and hazardous surge, that holds sway over him. From the encounter between the chair and the sea nothing remains but an everlasting friction between two forces shaping each other.

    And while in the real world this purported progress seems destined to devour nature and condemn us to an end, Fuenmayor’s auspicious work (as in Turner’s or Caspar Friederich’s Romanticism) is a maelstrom that defeats the death rattles of civilization. Power is inverted, and the image sometimes responds by becoming its negative. The splendor and the extravagance of the banquet inside a Victorian palace have been confined to the dark: The wild beast swallows the domesticated animal, and t he jungle devours the city.

    As he has gone about in the past in his previous investigations, in We All Have Our Shadows Fuenmayor intelligently reconsiders the exoticism of the tropics, abolishes color as its preconceived and expected fundamental aspect, places history in conflict with the land and, above all, brilliantly embraces the extravagance of format, wilderness, and opulence.

    Christian Padilla
    Art historian and curator

    Translated from the Spanish by Miguel Falquez-Certain

  • Tropicalypse @ Dot Fiftyone Gallery by Francine Birbragher, Artnexus 2018

    Tropicalypse @ Dot Fiftyone Gallery by Francine Birbragher,  Artnexus 2018

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor presented the exhibition Tropicalypse in Dot Fiftyone Gallery’s new space in Miami. The title of the exhibition, which combines the words “tropical” and “apocalypse”, reflects an evolution of the theme he has been exploring until now using of symbols consid- ered “tropical” such as bananas, pineapples, toucans and palm trees. Although the works presented are related to previous ones when dealing with themes such as cultural hybridization, exoticism and identity, their conceptual approach and the use of new tools such as video and large format drawings present a darker and openly critical proposal. Through the new works, he questions how the idea of the exotic is created as a “brand” that is perpetuated and, in the process, it standardizes the idea of what is or should be consider exotic. According to Fuenmayor, “the exhibition was a pretext to create works that would talk about that internal and social negotiation of how the exotic or the tropical is perpetuated within the subconscious through video, photography and monumental drawings”.1
    At the entrance of the gallery the visitor finds a pair of pineapples placed on the ground in front of a yellow wall. When he approaches them, he realizes that the pulp of the fruits has been removed to create a sort of footwear. The pineapple, which in colonial America symbolized hospitality, is transformed in this context into a pair of slippers that can be used for walking or dancing, as can be seen in the video titled Frenzy (2017) presented in the project room. Frenzy is inspired by the gesture of adopting foreign cultural elements as their own and the absurdity that this appropriation or re-contextualization can lead to. According to Fuenmayor, “he is interested in what happens in the translation of customs and what is left without the possibility of translation.”2 Hence the idea of producing a video in which the legs of a woman are seen performing a ballroom dance, a Charleston or a foxtrot, using pineapples as footwear instead of slippers. Produced in black and white, the three- minute video, whose title alludes to the impetus and disproportion with which the dancer (a former queen of the Barranquilla’s Carnival) moves to try to follow the rhythm using fruits as footwear, ends with the pineapples completely shattered. The result is a comic, nostalgic and critical commentary on the processes of transculturation.
    The image of the pineapples being used as footwear becomes an icon that is repeated on posters, photographs and drawings, including the charcoal Varieties of Truth (2017), part of a series of oval works in small format (45.72 x 60.96 cm) that alludes to a Victorian nostalgia
    Gonzalo Fuenmayor. Tropicalypse, 2017. Charcoal on paper. 84 x 180 in. (213.3 x 457.2 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Dot Fiftyone Gallery.
    and to the tradition of courtly portraits of the 17th and 18th centuries. Other works include Semantic Innocence (2017), in which a naked torso wears a skirt made of bananas, alluding to the garment used by the African-American actress Josephine Baker who became famous in Paris in the 1920s for her exotic way of dancing and her skirt made of fabric bananas; The Taste of Impotence (2017), in which the skeleton of a toucan as a petrified fossil can be interpreted as the representa- tion of an extinct specimen and/or the disappearance of the bird as an exotic signifier, represented without its colorful plumage and devoid of life. An outstanding work in this series is How would you want me to exoticize myself for you (2017), a drawing that addresses the constant negotiation inherent in the act of belonging. The question, somewhat mocking, that appears written on the surface of a delicate Flamenco still life of exotic flowers and fruits, questions the expectations that one person may have of another and the extreme desire to want to please.
    Undoubtedly the most impressive pieces of the exhibition are Tropicalypse (2017), a polyptych measuring 2.13 meters high by 4.57 meters long that represents palm tree plantation in flames, and The Seeds of Decadence (2017), a triptych measuring 2.13 meters high by 3.66 meters long that represents, “in negative,” one of Buckingham Palace’s lounge decorated in Victorian style with all the elements that represent the decadent opulence of the time. To invert the values in this last image, the artist obscures everything bright, luxurious and lavish, drawing it masterfully in charcoal, while converting all the shadows into light, representing them with pure white paper. The work resembles a photographic negative in which the acts of drawing and erasing are closely related. By installing these two monumental works in front of each other in the gallery’s main hall, Fuenmayor provokes an intense dialogue between them both at a visual and a conceptual level. The flames are reflected in the surface of the glass that covers the drawing of the interior of the palace while the image of the room seems to have been burned by the fire that still burns in the palm trees when reflected in the glass that covers the landscape. The result is a true chaos that symbolizes the end of two seemingly opposite worlds, but in truth very similar insofar as both symbolize realities much more complex than they appear on the surface.
    1. Interview with Gonzalo Fuenmayor, January 2018 2. Ibid.

  • Viaje al carboncillo macondiano de Gonzalo Fuenmayor

    Viaje al carboncillo macondiano de Gonzalo Fuenmayor
  • Gonzalo Fuenmayor en Galeria El Museo

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor en Galeria El Museo
  • Gonzalo Fuenmayor @ Dolby Chadwick by Maria Porges/ SquareCylinder.com

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor @ Dolby Chadwick by Maria Porges/ SquareCylinder.com

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    Gonzalo Fuenmayor en la Galería Dolby Chadwick
    Publicado el 5 de septiembre de 2016.

    “La superficie de una canción” (2015), carboncillo sobre papel, 52" x 86" [1m32 x 2m18]

    por María Porges

    Hay algo desafiante (o por lo menos irónico) en el título Pintoresco, la exposición de diez dibujos recientes al carboncillo del expatriado colombiano Gonzalo Fuenmayor. Los paisajes que se describen como pintorescos son bonitos o folclóricos: la clase de lugar que se visita (o se explota) pero en los que muy pocas veces se vive. Fuenmayor (radicado en Miami desde hace varios años) ha investigado en su obra los temas de la colonización y del exotismo desde su época de estudiante en Nueva York a finales de los años noventa, en los que explora asuntos tales como los guineos (la tercera exportación agrícola legal más importante de Colombia) y el barroco turbante repleto de frutas que utilizaba la legendaria cantante y actriz luso-brasileña Carmen Miranda.

    En estas obras sofisticadas y convincentes, Fuenmayor continúa explotando las complejas vetas de la crítica sociopolítica y surrealista, pasando a incluir la palmera (para los estadounidenses, el símbolo por antonomasia

    “Una coincidencia botánica” (2016), carboncillo sobre papel, 77" x 52" [1m95 x 1m32]
    de las vacaciones en el trópico), así como asombrosas composiciones teatrales en las cuales presenta la improbable combinación de complejos elementos arquitectónicos de los siglos XVII y XVIII con (¡vaya sorpresa!) piscinas.

    Tradicionalmente un símbolo de riqueza, las piscinas también ofrecen una oportunidad interesante para subvertir nuestro punto de vista, tanto literal como figurativamente hablando. Sorprendentemente, Fuenmayor recubre los costados de estos elegantes espacios vacíos con virtuosas ejecuciones de detalles complejamente tallados del tipo que se observa en los cielos rasos de los palacios. Diseños retorcidos de animales y (o) plantas sugieren un grado de desmesura, tanto lujosa como baladí. La idea de una piscina dorada y artesonada, equipada con un trampolín reglamentario, es un concepto brillante y perverso, totalmente original

    y un tanto perturbador, insinuando lo que el artista ha descrito como una doble negación. Estas piscinas son espacios inexistentes y antiminimalistas, sus bordes perfectamente definidos que conducen a interiores que muestran un nivel de decadencia que ni siquiera los dictadores sueñan con alcanzar.

    Las piscinas en obras como Ruido de dios o La superficie de una canción carecen no sólo de agua sino también de ocupantes; ubicadas en espacios oscuros, de aspectos ligeramente teatrales, sugieren un escenario o un estadio tan vacíos como los salones parecidos a mausoleos de un museo palaciego luego de concluidas las horas de visita. Iluminados con proyectores como si un espectáculo estuviera a punto de iniciarse, los lugares y los espacios en todos estos dibujos aparecen despoblados como si acabara de suceder el apocalipsis, con los trampolines y los tacos de salida vacíos. Los únicos actores presentes

    “Palmera” (2016), carboncillo sobre papel, 60" x 45" [1m52 x 1m14]
    son las palmeras, asomándose por el telón de un teatro en Una picazón tropical, atravesando poltronas mullidas en Una coincidencia botánica y atiborrando piscinas en forma de riñones en Inmersión y en La insolencia del asombro.

    En otras obras, Fuenmayor incursiona en la puesta en escena de una manera diferente. Palmera muestra una sucesión de marcos tallados excesivamente ornamentados, cada uno de ellos más pequeño que el que lo contiene, hasta definirse a lo lejos una imagen diminuta semejante a un camafeo de una sola palmera azotada por el viento: la naturaleza abrumadoramente engalanada por la cultura, como una taza hecha de la concha de un coco en un escaparate de objetos curiosos. En Puesta de sol, una composición similar de marcos apilados en trompe l’oeil, la distante imagen diminuta en el centro trae a la memoria un espectáculo al final del día observado desde una terraza en una novela latinoamericana de realismo mágico, con un trago de ron en la mano, acompañado por el sonido de maracas y posiblemente de disparos en la lejanía. Incluso contemplar pensamientos semejantes (mientras que todo este tiempo se admire el humor negro de Fuenmayor y sus convincentes conjunciones del encanto tropical con la antigua opulencia) nos causa una punzada de remordimiento poscolonial. Y esto es como debería ser.

    # # #

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor: “Pintoresco” en la Galería Dolby Chadwick hasta el 1o de octubre de 2016.

    Acerca de la autora:
    La escritora y artista María Porges vive y trabaja en Oakland. Durante más de dos decenios, sus ensayos críticos han aparecido en muchas publicaciones, incluidas Artforum, Art in America, Sculpture, American Craft, Glass, el New York Times Book Review y muchas otras. La autora de aproximadamente 100 ensayos para catálogos de exposiciones, se desempeña actualmente como profesora adjunta en California College of the Arts.

  • Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Interview with Gonzalo Fuenmayor, by Josune Urbistondo

  • Gonzalo Fuenmayor: The Impeccable Draftsman

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor: Un dibujante impecable
    leer aqui


    Gonzalo Fuenmayor: The Impeccable Draftsman
    A master of sublime charcoal technique, patiently laborious in his drawings as well as in his researching processes, he executes large-format works that hardly go unnoticed. On this occasion, Gonzalo Fuenmayor joins Colección Arteria with a piece on the last page of this edition.
    David Guzmán
    A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Gonzalo Fuenmayor (1977) has been producing art for more than a decade, using bananas as a theme with various techniques. He has depicted them in paintings, charcoal drawings, and photographs, and he has placed them, as they are found in nature, in his own installations.
    Fuenmayor is a master of the charcoal drawing, to the point that his works could be easily confused with black-and-white photographs, except that in the images he creates there appear objects that are not usually seen together, like palm trees inside a theater, swans in Cochabamba (Bolivia), or Victorian chandeliers hanging from clusters of bananas.
    Devotion to his craft is what defines him since he can focus on a single drawing for up to three months: “I was very much interested in exploring the act of drawing where patience, magnitude, gesture, and light come together,” he said.
    Fuenmayor explained that he initially became interested in this fruit because he wanted to make “an act of ‘self-exotization’ when I was living in Boston (MA).” He started painting them on a large scale, in a state of decomposition, and eventually, and as he continued creating more works, his ideas about it developed and changed.
    Initially, he worked on it as a reference to Andy Warhol’s Pop Art; then, as an allusion to Freud’s ideas through the exploration of the sexual potential of the image; and, later, he included narratives that alluded to the political and historical relationship of the United Fruit Company with Colombia. “It was an anchor I used to explore several issues that were relevant to me or that I was interested in,” he said.
    Fuenmayor was trained as an artist at The School of Visual Arts in New York City (Class of 2000) and, subsequently, in 2004, he graduated from the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston with a Master’s degree.
    Right off from the start, he focused his efforts on nationality and memory. The origin of the powerful images this artist has constructed from bananas and Victorian motifs can be traced back to the show he had in Miami, in 2009, entitled “Pornorama.” In it, he built an installation at Dot Fiftyone Gallery, in which he laid out bananas with Victorian engravings which, eventually, would oxidize while the reliefs began to darken. Although the exhibit placed more emphasis on the banana’s sexual symbolism, the mixture of radiance, ornamentation, decadence, and memory was already present.
    The following year, in the exhibition “Radiance,” he showed a series of charcoal drawings in which he coupled bunches of bananas with furniture and Victorian chandeliers, symbolizing the relationship between the ornamental, as a deception, and the tragic, alluding to the controversial past surrounding the farming and trade of bananas in Colombia, in particular to the so-called Massacre of the Banana Plantations, which occurred on December 6, 1928, in Ciénaga (Colombia). The show opened in April 2010 at Galería Mundo in Bogotá.
    In the years that followed, Fuenmayor continued his work that revolved around hybridization, exoticism, and identity in large-format charcoal drawings, which he included in the exhibitions “Tropicalia” in Miami in 2011, as well as in “They Say I Came Back Americanized” in San Francisco in 2013.
    The most recent pieces by Fuenmayor in connection with these concepts are being currently shown at The Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, in the exhibition “Tropical Mythologies.” This exhibition came to be as a result of his traveling to Leticia and Ciénaga (both in Colombia) with the support of the Traveling Fellowship granted to him by MFA. “It is a grant provided by the museum to go to any place in the world that an artist may consider to be important to his work,” elaborated Fuenmayor, who was selected in 2012.
    Undoubtedly, patience is one of his attributes, because he consistently applied for the grant time after time for nine years, until he was finally chosen by the judges. Originally, he had proposed to travel to different European cities with great artistic traditions; however, his application was rejected time and again. However, he who persists wins out in the end. “When the last and final chance I had to apply came, I thought about the Amazon jungle as the most exotic place in Colombia and in a plantation of bananas in Ciénaga.” And at last the Traveling Fellowship was granted to him.
    In March 2013, he spent a week with the native community “Siete de Agosto.” The artist considered it important for his work, which focused on identity and hybridization, to visit the borderline of three countries.
    The Amazon region is “a very porous border,” referring to the fact that the locals don’t care that much if they happen to be in Brazil, in Colombia, or in Peru. They all see themselves as residents of the same place. “It was very interesting to see these people, after we had gone fishing and hunting, returning home to their huts to watch a Real Madrid team soccer match on Direct TV.”
    From Leticia he traveled to a banana plantation in Santa Cruz de Papare in Ciénaga. This was a significant and edifying experience for his work: “I had been aware of the entire history of the banana through books and films; however, I had never been in direct contact with the source,” he said.
    During his stay at the plantation, Fuenmayor hung chandeliers from bunches of bananas and, with the help of a gas-powered electricity generator, he turned on the lights, bringing to life those exotic images he had given shape to in his charcoal drawings. He took pictures of them for what he called the “Papare Project,” and he’s currently showing them within the framework of the “Tropical Mythologies” exhibition.
    During the Art Basel Fair in Miami in 2014, he had already brought those chandeliers to life. There, he arranged them hanging from clusters of bananas in a dining room at the Faena Hotel, in an installation he titled “Eden,” which had a great impact on the art fair visitors.
    “Tropical mythologies,” his current exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, will run until September 13th. He will probably have a show at the Galería El Museo in the coming year.
    Translated from the Spanish by Miguel Falquez-Certain

    “Gringoland.” Charcoal drawing on paper, 60” x 52” (152 cm x 132 cm) (2014) Courtesy of: Gonzalo Fuenmayor

    Photo: Karin Stefan. Courtesy of: Gonzalo Fuenmayor
    Gonzalo Fuenmayor uses bananas as symbols

  • Mitologías Tropicales: Entrevista en Letraurbana.com por Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig

  • New Art: 2015 South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship Exhibition

    Selected Artist:

    FAU Galleries website

    Loriel Beltran, Reed Van Brunschot, Aleister Eaves, Dara Friedman, Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Brookhart Jonquil, Sarah Knouse, Lucinda linderman, Silvia Lizama, Janet Onofrey, Kerry Phillips, Sofia Valiente.

    Each year a consortium of Florida’s five county cultural councils awards 10 to 12 grants to visual and media artists residing in the five counties. In an era of shrinking support for individual artists these $7,500 and $15,000 grants are among America’s highest annual awards provided through a public competitive grant process. The exhibition presents recent works by these artists and also allows some of them to make new works on-site often with the assistance of FAU students. The 2015 edition of the exhibition marks the fifth time since 2001 that the exhibition has been presented by University Galleries. The works in the exhibition were selected by Mariela Acuna and Rod Faulds. An illustrated catalogue published by the University Galleries will document the exhibition.

  • Bananas Ripe with Symbolism for Gonzalo Fuenmayor at the MFA

    Boston Globe Review by Cate McQuaid

    read here

    Bananos repletos de simbolismo según Gonzalo Fuenmayor en el Museum of Fine Arts

    Los bananos son un tema central en “Gonzalo Fuenmayor: mitologías tropicales”, una pequeña y provocadora exposición de dibujos, fotografías y videos en el Museum of Fine Arts. No son tan dulces e inocentes como uno podría imaginarse. Para Fuenmayor, que se crió en Colombia, acarrean una historia violenta y el choque de las culturas tropicales con las occidentales, invasoras y presuntas poseedoras de derechos.
    Hace un siglo, la United Fruit Co. dominaba el comercio bananero, con plantaciones y redes de transporte en Sudamérica, Centroamérica y las Antillas. La empresa estadounidense ejercía gran influencia en algunos gobiernos, por ende el término “República bananera”.
    En 1928, los trabajadores de la United en Colombia hicieron una huelga con el fin de obtener mejores condiciones laborales. En el transcurso de unas pocas semanas, movido por el temor de una invasión de los Estados Unidos con el objeto de proteger los intereses de la empresa, el ejército colombiano disparó y mató a un número desconocido de obreros huelguistas, tal vez decenas, tal vez millares. El novelista colombiano Gabriel García Márquez llevó a la ficción el abominable acontecimiento, que llegó a conocerse como la Masacre de las bananeras en las últimas páginas de Cien años de soledad.
    Fuenmayor, residenciado en Miami, estudió una maestría en la Escuela del Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA, por sus siglas en inglés), donde se le conocía como “el hombre de los bananos” porque los dibujaba. Se había cansado de hacer obras que exploraban las drogas, la violencia y otros problemas sociales que los estadounidenses relacionaban con su patria y en los bananos encontró una mina de oro.
    La SMFA otorgó a Fuenmayor una beca de viaje en 2013 y el artista utilizó el dinero para visitar una finca bananera en Colombia. Varias piezas incluidas en “Mitologías tropicales” provienen de su experiencia en ese lugar.
    Los administradores de la hacienda Santa Cruz de Papare a orillas del río Amazonas [sic] deben de haber quedado perplejos cuando el artista les presentó su propuesta: colgaría varias arañas victorianas de las plantas de banano y las encendería durante la noche. Los anticuarios a quienes les pidió prestadas las arañas de luces deben de haber quedado desconcertados. Al parecer, todos aceptaron.
    Su video “Proyecto Papare” documenta su trabajo. Es, en parte, un documental de cada día y, en parte, realismo mágico. Comienza con fragmentos de la vida cotidiana en la plantación: trabajadores cortando frutas con sus machetes, bananos verde limón mientras son lavados y transportados en camiones. Cuando las arañas llegan en cajas de cartón, Fuenmayor y su cuadrilla se disponen a colgarlas. La luz del sol relumbra a través de los cristales; los bananos verdes se destacan entre ellos. Al fin anochece y se encienden las arañas, lanzando su luz sobre los bananos y sus grandes hojas en forma de abanico.
    Es totalmente ridículo. Y divertido y bastante tierno. El humor radica en la contraposición de culturas y ambientes: la luz que estos relumbrantes ejemplos de refinamiento europeo arrojan sobre esta finca tropical sólo es suficiente para revelar lo desfasados que están los unos de los otros.
    Las fotos de arañas luminosas, “Génesis I” y “Génesis VI”, tienen un tinte verde oscuro metálico, un brillo de opulencia que hace que el contraste entre la araña y la fruta sea menos irritante; después de todo, ambas son pruebas de fecundidad.
    Todas las obras se ocupan de tensiones colonialistas difíciles de manejar, a veces invirtiéndolas. El fantástico dibujo “El invitado inesperado” representa al trópico entrometiéndose en las cuestiones de la alta sociedad, de la misma manera en que los constructores del imperio y las empresas se entrometieron en el trópico.
    Mediante el uso del carboncillo, Fuenmayor ágilmente dibuja los detalles más sutiles de un salón en el Palacio de Buckingham, un cuarto con espejos enormes y frágiles arañas. Es una prueba irrefutable de los despojos del imperio, un lugar tan preocupado por su propio esplendor que sería imposible reposarse allí.
    Ni que en todo caso se pudiera: una palmera se entromete violentamente por una ventana y ocupa el centro del cuarto. Su follaje cosquillea el borde de un diván y roza ligeramente la superficie de una mesa cubierta con un espejo. Es una mezcolanza misteriosamente absurda de interiores y exteriores, el boato del poder y las fuerzas de la naturaleza.
    La pieza central de la exposición es “Apocalipsis magno”, el magnífico dibujo al carboncillo de 3 metros de alto, con una araña de cristal resplandeciente colgada de un manojo de bananos. Las luces estallan como bombillos a medida que los bananos suben desapareciendo lentamente en la oscuridad. Fuenmayor es un maestro del carboncillo. Se las ingenia para extraer elocuentes claroscuros delicadamente refinados de un medio polvoriento y poco fiable.
    El artista se inspira en la película Fitzcarraldo (1982) de Werner Herzog, en la que un industrial irlandés emplea a trabajadores indígenas peruanos para que jalen un buque de vapor con el objeto de rodarlo al otro lado de una montaña con el fin de transportar caucho, que él tiene la intención de vender para construir un teatro de ópera en el Perú. La película satiriza la extravagante miopía cultural de los occidentales que invierten en sociedades ajenas a las propias.
    Para los británicos, “miopes” equivalen a nuestros “cegatos”. “Miopía tropical”, el dibujo de Fuenmayor, sitúa un foróptero (la máquina con varios lentes parecida a una máscara que utilizan los optometristas para medir la vista de los pacientes) en contraste con un terreno de vegetación tropical exuberante.
    El dibujo es encantador y extraño; sin embargo, el concepto es demasiado pretencioso y esta sola pieza resulta un poco forzada. Fuenmayor sopesa las repercusiones históricas de lo que significa ser colombiano y vivir en los Estados Unidos. Como lo demuestran la mayoría de sus obras en esta exposición, es más complejo (y mucho más sustancioso) que un juego de palabras.
    GONZALO FUENMAYOR: Mitologías tropicales
    En: Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., hasta el 13 de septiembre, 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

  • Europa contra Macondo en la obra del artista Gonzalo Fuenmayor

    leer en Español

    Europe Against Macondo in the Work of the Artist Gonzalo Fuenmayor
    His new work has been inspired by the tension that exists between Colombian and foreign cultures.

    4:15 p.m. | April 17, 2015
    “While studying in the United States, I felt that I had to create exotic, Caribbean-themed works in order to be accepted. I was the only Latino. However, I got tired of that reasoning, and I came up with the idea of looking at all that with irony, making fun of those stereotypes of what a Latino should be, and the Macondian image of the United Fruit Company came to mind. It was then that bananas came into my work,” says the artist Gonzalo Fuenmayor (Barranquilla, 1977) on how he began to develop a body of work focusing on the banana, on which he has been working since 2002.
    As it happens, a show focusing on this theme is opening this coming Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, under the title “Tropical Mythologies.” This exhibition came about as the result of the SMFA Traveling Fellowship he had been granted, along with nine other artists, in 2013, which would allow him to travel to any place of his choosing for a period of time. Fuenmayor (who is the grandson of Alfonso Fuenmayor, one of the members of García Márquez’s literary group of the early fifties) decided to spend a couple of months in the Amazon, where he researched the light, the sounds, and the images of the jungle.
    When the fellowship ended, he didn’t return immediately to Miami, where he’s been living for the past seven years (he’s been living in the United States since 1998), but, instead, he went to Barranquilla. He had something on his mind: He looked for huge Victorian chandeliers all over the city and took them to a banana plantation.
    Then, he mixed the two together. He created aggressive compositions in which chandeliers and bananas seem to be part of the same system, as if the palm trees were street lamps or as if the chandeliers had come to life and were bearing fruit. He took pictures, recorded a video, and let himself go. Then, he made huge drawings focusing on the same question: What happens when European culture is forcefully imposed on the Caribbean, or when the Caribbean culture is imposed on Europe? Inspired by this question, he created works in which a bunch of bananas storms into a room at Buckingham Palace; a classical theater is suddenly filled with palm trees; or a luxurious, decadent chandelier lights up in the midst of the most Macondian of crops.
    A Clash of Traditions
    “This show, for example, allows me to talk about cultural clashes as well as of the tension that has existed throughout our history between our traditions and those that were forced upon us,” said the artist, who has participated in Colombia’s Fernando Botero Prize (2007), Artecámara in Artbo (2009), and in Bogotá’s Fourth Two-Dimensional Art Show exhibitions, just to name a few.
    Regarding the works to be exhibited, curators such as Álvaro Medina from Colombia and Miranda Lash from the U.S.A. have praised not only his discursive ability, but also his almost-Classical aesthetic and figurative qualities in times like these in which beauty sometimes matters little. “Beauty, as seen from a Romantic point of view, has always been one of my artistic obsessions,” he said.

  • El "Exotismo Híbrido" de Gonzalo Fuenmayor

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    Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s ‘Hybrid Exoticism’
    Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s ‘Hybrid Exoticism’

    Francine Birbragher*

    A selection of works by Gonzalo Fuenmayor is being shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (USA) until September 13, 2015. They are the result of the experiences of this artist from Barranquilla (Colombia), based in the United States, who spent some time in Leticia and Ciénaga, both in Colombia.
    Under the title “Tropical mythologies,” he’s showing charcoals and photographs, by way of which he explores exoticism and hybridization from the visual vocabulary he’s been developing for years.
    At the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he earned his Master’s degree in Fine Arts (2004), Fuenmayor took an interest in identity and in what he calls “hybrid exoticism.”
    Even though he’s been living in the United States from a young age, his fellow students used to call him “The Colombian.” Oddly enough, when he visited Barranquilla they called him “gringo.”
    The self-questioning of his identity led him to search for an element that would allow him to convey that ambiguity, a symbol that would display his concern, and he decided to use an agricultural product from Latin America, which is a staple of the American diet: bananas.
    In his early works, bananas took on a complex meaning way beyond the usual reference to the tropics and the sexual connotation that is usually ascribed to it. For Fuenmayor, the real (perishable) fruit became a corpse when he presented it in a state of decomposition on large canvases.
    Later, it picked up other meanings. For example, when he transformed the peel into a sort of a skirt, the banana became a female, somewhat slippery entity, which recalled Marilyn Monroe’s iconic image.
    The title of this piece, Monroe Act (2004), also hints at the “Monroe Doctrine” (1823), by way of which the United States justified military intervention in the event that any European nation tried to interfere with the internal affairs of North or South America. The humorous and critical tone of the titles is a constant in his works and permeates the visual imagery.
    Subsequently, Fuenmayor camouflaged the fruit in spaces decorated with Victorian-style objects. In the same way that Victorian culture masked reality in an era in which privacy and appearances took priority socially, the artist hid the banana with its multiple connotations, especially the sexual ones, and mixed it with very elaborate crystal chandeliers, or placed it in richly decorated spaces.
    Historically, this fruit has been considered a symbol of social inequality, or of economic crisis, because of its relation with trade-union problems that generated conflicts and even carnage, such as the so-called Banana Zone Massacre (1928), immortalized by Gabriel García Márquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
    As his visual works evolved, he took an interest in carrying out a work of historical gravitas, without falling into the merely decorative. Instead of carving or drawing the fruit’s peel, he engraved Victorian designs in an indelible form, so that the oxidation process would reveal them with the passage of time. The result, documented in large works, showed the engraved fruits whose surfaces changed as they ripened.
    In his supermarket series, he mixed these bananas with fruits for sale, in photographs that hark back to works by Gabriel Orozco and Félix González Torres.
    As an homage to the latter, he made the installation Esto no pertenece aquí [This Doesn’t Belong Here], with hundreds of intervened bananas, piled up in a corner of the gallery. Upon oxidation, the Victorian elements would appear on the peel and merge with the stains on the bananas about to ripen.
    The work had an olfactory element, since a smell of decay permeated the room as the fruits were rotting, as well as a taste element, since the ripened fruit would be regularly used to bake banana bread, which was then offered to the gallery goers.
    In the banana series, he used drawings and photography. In both mediums, he manipulated the images, played with their different meanings, and kept on mixing the bananas with the Victorian furniture in larger works carried out in black and white hues.
    Knowing that everything related to Latin America has been associated with the colors of the tropics, Fuenmayor removed color and adopted charcoal as the medium and the shape in order to define its hybrid identity.
    That hybrid character led him to portray somewhat strange images that make us wonder what is going on in the scene, as well as what the artist is trying to depict. The scenes take on a theatrical atmosphere because of his handling of the light.
    The Victorian interiors in which bananas still turn up are progressively dramatic and show, through delicate crystal chandeliers and the texture of the velvet curtains meticulously detailed, his skillful handling of charcoal.
    It is in the chandeliers where you can better appreciate the mastery with which he draws and explores the light. It is a long and tedious process in which light emerges from the paper.
    At a symbolic level, the challenge about identity and culture continued to evolve, as evidenced in The Moment of Surrender / El momento de la rendición (2013), in which a boa constrictor is trying to swallow whole a Victorian hat rack.
    According to Fuenmayor, the image represents a culture that is absorbing another. In this case, the snake is swallowing Europe up. The golden background of this work alludes to the legend of El Dorado.
    It is also the theme of the series of drawings in which he appropriated Columbia Pictures Corporation’s logo and changed the word to Colombia, in this way writing, according to him, his own history. Continuing with his play on words, he created pieces such as “God Bless Latin America” (2014), unmistakably conceptual in his approach, in which humor and criticism can be perceived.
    In 2013, he traveled to Leticia (Colombia), thanks to an SMFA Traveling Scholars Fellowship from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He saw the Amazon River for the first time and spent the night in a nearby native village.
    He, then, started working on “Project Papare” in Ciénaga in the Magdalena Province, a Colombian area known for its banana plantations. Right at the center of one of them, he set up four fancy chandeliers.
    The large-scale photographs documenting the project manage to convey the same thematic approach and reflection on the light as he does in his drawings.
    Gonzalo Fuenmayor continues working on his pieces, and future projects include an exhibition at the Hollywood Art and Culture Center in Florida, as well as a solo exhibition at Galería El Museo in Bogotá (Colombia). Both are scheduled for next year.
    *The author has a Ph.D. in Latin American History and Art History from the University of Miami.
    Diego Guerrero / ARTERIA
    Courtesy of: Gonzalo Fuenmayor and Gallery Dot Fiftyone
    “Intermission.” One of the works that shows Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s conceptual process and skills in charcoal.
    Courtesy of: Gonzalo Fuenmayor and Gallery Dot Fiftyone
    “Apocalypse Magnus.” Charcoal on paper.
    Courtesy of: Gonzalo Fuenmayor and Gallery Dot Fiftyone
    “Tropical Myopia.” Charcoal on paper.

    Translated from the Spanish by Miguel Falquez-Certain

  • What we are seeing @ Christies

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor: Tropical Mythologies
    18 April — 13 September
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Columbian-born Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s banana chandeliers were a big hit when they went on display at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2014. Originally photographed in tropical landscapes, the Victorian chandeliers and banana branches clash together, evoking the legacy of colonialism, cultural hybridity and transnational identity. As Fuenmayor has said, ‘I am interested in how ornamentation, with its grace and excess, has the capacity to camouflage and overshadow questionable circumstances of all kinds.’ A 2004 graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts MFA programme, this is Fuenmayor’s first solo exhibition at the Museum.


  • 2014

    Génesis I, Obra ganadora - 1st Prize
    6 Salón de Arte Bidimensional
    Nov. 1, 2013 - Ene. 14. 2014
    Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño
    Bogotá, Colombia
    Salón Bidimensional

    New American Paintings Issue #106

    2013 SMFA Traveling Fellowship Recipient
    Boston, MA

    Residency Bemis Center
    Omaha, NE, Summer 2014
    Bemis Center

  • 2013 SMFA Traveling Fellowship Recpient


  • Gonzalo Fuenmayor: Canibalizar el Trópico

    El Nuevo Herald article, Sept 19, 2011 by Adriana Herrera
    read here

  • Accumulations @ Solar Gallery, June 25th - Aug. 22nd , 2011

  • Revista Mundo PDF

    Entrevista con Maria Belen Saez Ibarra y articulo de Alvaro Medina.

  • El Nuevo Siglo: Fuenmayor y su Vision del Conflicto Armado

  • 10x10+1 @ Galeria MUNDO

  • Gracias Por Pensar en Mi/ Thanks for Thinking of Me

    Parque Cultural del Caribe
    Barranquilla, Colombia
    Enero 18 - Feb. 13, 2010

    Exhibition images
    El Heraldo


    Selected by juror Barbara O'Brien, Curator, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, from almost 1,000 applicants to appear in New American Paintings, No. 88, South Edition.
    more info about newamerican paintings


  • *ARTECAMARA 2009*

    The most promising Colombian artists will be given the opportunity to exhibit their proposals in the Artecamara pavilion (Pavilion #4). Their works were selected among 180 projects received in the Artecamara "young artists" research project call that was organized by the Bogota Chamber of Commerce. After a rigorous curatorial labor, 23 artists were selected to exhibit their high quality works.

    In these works, drawing, photography and video are open to a series of interpretations on social context approached from an artistic perspective oriented to consolidate an astonishing space that has become an international referent under the curatorial work of Maria Iovino.

    The Bogota Chamber of Commerce constituted the Artecamara Exhibition Room Network by integrating spaces that have been disposed in some of the different locations that represent the entity, and that are situated in neighborhoods like Salitre, Norte, Cedritos, Restrepo, Cazucá and Kennedy. This places are conceived to offer simultaneous opportunities to young artists, providing them of exhibition opportunities, and to diverse audiences, offering them occasional consolidated artist?s exhibitions.

    link for information






    El artista barranquillero Gonzalo Fuenmayor ganó una mención de honor en el II Concurso Arte Joven Colsanitas, con ‘Violencia de la Epifanía’, exhibida en la galería La Cometa, de Bogotá.

    La obra de Fuenmayor fue escogida entre 1.116 de 456 artistas jóvenes. La directora del Concurso, Bibiana Cocheteux, expresó su satisfacción por el número de participantes, y recalcó que el objetivo es “promover y dar a conocer el arte de los jóvenes talentos colombianos y establecer nuevos espacios de divulgación cultural”.

    Esta versión del concurso contó con la colaboración de un jurado calificador compuesto por personajes conocidos en el mundo artístico como: Paula Silva, profesora de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano y curadora;

    Esteban Jaramillo, creador de la Galería La Cometa; Rodrigo Campos, agregado cultural de la Embajada de España en Colombia y Jesús Méndez, editor de la revista Bacánika.

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor también tiene una exhibición en la Galeria DotFiftyOne de Miami, FL. La muestra lleva como nombre ‘Pornorama’ y estará abierta al público hasta el 20 de junio.

    mas info


    Dot Fiftyone gallery is proudly presenting two simultaneous exhibitions:

    “Timeless”, first US exhibition by Argentinean artist Hernán Cédola.
    First floor main gallery.

    “Pornorama” by Colombian artist, living in Miami, Gonzalo Fuenmayor.
    Second floor project room.
    In addition to “Timeless” opening, Dot Fiftyone will be unveiling the same Saturday April 11th, (at the gallery’s project room): “Pornorama” by Gonzalo Fuenmayor.


    “Pornorama” is the name of the exhibition proposed by this young Colombian artist living in Miami with an MFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA for Dot Fiftyone’s project room. Art installation, photography and drawing comprise Fuenmayor’s presentation.

    “Pornoramas”, Fuenmayor’ series of Mylar drawings resemble quicksands, more so than drawings. Each drawing is composed of two juxtaposed Mylar sheets drawn on each side, which converge together creating a multilayered landscape. The surface simultaneously deceives and reveals itself when the capricious gaze decides to caress its uneven surface as it attempts to swallow the spectator. Abstraction, figuration, desire and pornography camouflage themselves in a metaphorical panorama that is triggered solely through the gaze.

    In the landscape painting tradition there has always been a distance between what is looked upon and what is portrayed. In this case, the landscape becomes internal, chaotic, portraying imaginary scenes around Banana Republics. The banana with its long, tragic and phallic history has been the pretext to explore memory, desire and the decorative distance between reality and fantasy.

    While the drawings rely on transparencies and layers to present a metaphorical landscape of Banana Republics, the photography and the installation focuses on ideas of visibility, colonization and violence through transient oxidized drawings on bananas.

    Gonzalo Fuenmayor is a Colombian artist currently based in Miami. He received his MFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA in 2004, and a BFA in Fine Arts and Art Education from School of Visual Arts in 2000, where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship from the Keith Haring Foundation. His drawings are included in the Flat Files of the Drawing Center in NY, and has been awarded numerous awards including the Stacey Sussman’s Traveling Award in 2000, Silas Rhodes Family Award in 2000, and recently in 2007, an Honorable Mention from Concurso Fernando Botero. Gonzalo Fuenmayor has exhibited in solo and group shows in the USA, Colombia as well as in Europe; recently he participated at “Laberintos” Group Show at Galeria MUNDO in Bogota, COL, as well as representing Colombia at the V International Biennial of Standards at Centro Cultural Tijuana, Tijuana, MX. This is the artist’s Miami gallery debut.

    Further information regarding the exhibition is available by calling (305) 573-9994 and online at dot@dotfiftyone.com; www.dotfiftyone.com. Hernán Cédola’s and Gonzalo Fuenmayor recent works images are available upon request.






    The Drawing Center, NY, NY
    The Viewing Program, Artist Registry


    Smash & Grab, LP's annual Fall RAFFLE Fundrasier is set for Saturday, November 1, 2008.
    Click here for more information and to view a list of donating artists and their works


    www.cecut.gob.mx/cartel.php?id=4 Bienal de Estandartes|

    Since 1996, under Marta Palau’s curatorial concept, this biennial is organized by the National Counsel of Culture and Arts, through the Centro Cultural Tijuana. It is directed to visual artists of the American continent.

    During its 12 years of existence, the International Biennial of Banners has had the participation of important artists such as Felipe Ehrenberg, Tomás Glassford, Liliana Porter and Carlos Arias. It has been at the same time an important platform of support to Baja California artists.

    More than 250 artists have participated in this biennial up to this day. In this year’s 5th International Biennial of Banners the following artists will participate: Acamonchi, Lourdes Almeida, Laura Anderson Barbata, Jordi Boldó, Maris Bustamante/John Kaine, Cristian Campos, Tina Cárdenas, Pablo Castañeda, Carmela Castrejón, Juan Pablo Chipe, Sung Ho Choi, Paulo Climachauska, José Díaz, Daniela Edburg, María Ezcurra, Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Rodrigo González, Federico Herrero, Perla Krauze, Magali Lara, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Laurie Litowitz, Jesús "Bubú" Negrón, Carlos Reyes, Elba Rhoads, Roberto Rosique, Jaime Ruiz Otis, Connie Samaras, Sofía Táboas, Pablo Uribe, Patricia Van Dalen, Roberto Zea Macarty/Jonathan Ruiz de la Peña, and Ximena Zomosa.

    The curator and art critic Rosina Cazali, artist Ana Tiscornia, and curator and critic Cuahutémoc Medina will be the judges in this 8th edition of the biennial.


    Oct 15 - Oct 20

    ARTBO 2008 ONLINEStand 319|
    www.artboonline.com/documentos/catalogo… Catalog|

    Carrera 40 No 22C,
    Bogota, Colombia.
    Tel: +(57)-(3)-810000
    Fax: +(571)-(4)-285551


    Inauguracion de la Exposicion Laberinto
    Jueves 11 de Septiembre 2008

    Lanzamiento de la revista MUNDO No. 31
    Jueves 25 de Septiembre 2008
    7:00 pm

    Galeria MUNDO
    Kra. 5 No. 26A-19 Torres del Parque, Bogota
    Tels: 2322408 - 2322467
    revista mundo


    Septiembre 18 de 2008 - Hora: 7:30 p.m.


    Carrera 10 No. 94 A - 25 Bogotá - Colombia

    Exposición de las obras:
    Lunes 15 de Septiembre de 12:00 m a 7:00 p.m.
    Martes 16 de Septiembre de 10:00 a.m. a 7:00 p.m.
    Miércoles 17 de Septiembre de 10:00 a.m. a 7:00 p.m.
    Jueves 18 de Septiembre de 10:00 a.m. a 6:00 p.m.



  • PREMIOS MOLAA @ Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA

    Virtual Catalog for Auction 08

  • *COLORING BOOK @ LMAK Projects*

    Coloring Book

    An exhibition for kids (and the kid in you….)

    Opening: Friday, September 19 from 4-9 pm
    Brunch: Sunday, September 28 from 1-4 pm
    September 20 – October 5 by appointment: 212 255 9707

    LMAKprojects, Williamsburg
    60 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

    LMAKprojects is pleased to inaugurate its new program at their Williamsburg location with Coloring Book, an exhibition for kids (and the kid in you….). Inspired by our daughter Olivia-Sophie and her attraction to colors, we composed a coloring book, which will feature the work of 10 artists: Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Carla Gannis, Tamara Gayer, Mitchell Marco, Tommy McKean, Alexander Reyna, Carlos Roque, Molly Schwartz, Federico Solmi and Jim Stoten.

    The artists selected one of their favorite drawings of which they made a coloring page. Children can color these pages. These and the originals artworks are on view till October 5.

    The exhibition is organized Bart and Louky Keijsers Koning.

  • BLOG