The latest art exhibition at SAP, “Un Paseo de Arte Latino,” takes visitors on a true voyage of discovery through contemporary Latin American artworks. But not all is as it seems at first glance.
The title of the exhibition, “Un Paseo de Arte Latino,” instills the idea of a joyful Sunday afternoon stroll; colorful, exotic, tropical, and warm, re-tracing the steps of artists from South America and the Caribbean. Yet what awaits the exhibit visitor is actually a reflective journey across an entire continent. The array of soft, muted tones and shapes provides an encounter with 17 contemporary artists, whose artworks are as heterogeneous as their countries of origin.
“These artworks tell a story,” explains curator Alexandra Cozgarea, “they heavily engage with the political and economic situations in the artists’ respective countries.”
For example, the work “Panorama Catatumbo” by Artist Noemí Pérez ostensibly depicts a jungle undergrowth, a scene of unspoiled nature, perhaps even a setting for magical stories native to South America. It is only on second glance that the observer is able to discern subtle images woven into the scene that are also an integral part this setting; illegal gold mining, cocaine production, and the overexploitation of natural resources.
The golden mask by Yosman Botero also reveals a deeper dimension. What appears to be a historical artefact from the Inca Empire is in fact a mask made up of intricate gold foils in the shape of assault rifles used by the Colombian Government, and the FARC guerilla movement.
Postcolombino #3, Yosman Botero
Other works describe a different journey, one of a continent in a state of flux, as represented by stone suitcase by Puerto Rican artist Karlo Andrei Ibarra. The work is called “Desterrados,” in English “The Displaced.” The suitcase is made from a paving stone that dates back to the era of the colonization of Latin America, a time of displacement, and the destruction of indigenous peoples.
Desterrados, Karlo Andrei Ibarra
“Homelessness” and “disorientation” are themes explored in Ibarra’s wall rug. Written on the rug is a quote from the Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti, who spent a restless life in political exile: “Cuando teníamos las respuestas nos cambiaron las preguntas” (“When we had all the answers, they changed the questions.”)
“The continent is in a phase of transformation, and the artists react and respond to this, almost like seismographs. They engage politically with the political conditions, but their works are also messages of hope,” Cozgarea explains. Sebastián Camacho’s paper artworks entitled Migrantes” (“Migrants”) depict the shapes of angel and bird wings, and are evocative of the theme of freedom, weightlessness, and the desire to be carried off by the wind.
Migrantes, Sebastián Camacho
The artists employ diverse media such as painting, photography, drawing, and objects to shed light on the diverse facets of colonial history, as well as current realities. The works, most of which are on loan from the Funcke Collection, are unified through “their vitality and mood of optimism that is articulated almost like a vibration,” says Cozgarea.
For more than twenty years, SAP has had a presence in South and Central America and has about 4,000 employees in the region today. Claudio Muruzábal, President of SAP Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasized in his video welcome address that “Latin America is founded on creativity. This is what makes us stand out, and is vital for us as a company, since artistic creativity is also a form of innovation. Ultimately, technology is all about innovation.”
Around 500 guests attended the exhibition opening on October 21, which enjoyed musical accompaniment from the band Havana Coastline. The exhibition will run until February 24, 2017 in the SAP International Training Center (Building 5) in Walldorf, Germany. The opening times are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., and admission is free.
The works shown here are kindly on loan from the Funcke Collection.
Video by Kesja Cichowski and Norbert Steinhauser