Artist: Jaime Gili
Ornament and Barricade
November 20, 2014 – February 5, 2015
Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
Miami, FL, USA
Only after doing it three times and approaching a fourth, I realized that for exhibition titles, large projects, or even a series of paintings; I have repeated a dialectical formula that recreates links between Europe, European minds, and the coasts: South America or its local counterparts. I did it, for instance, when, for an exhibition in Winterthur, I placed Max Bill at Henri Pittier´s Park in Venezuela, and also when I completed the story of Gio Ponti on the Venezuelan coast and Reverón in the Mediterranean, for a series of paintings.
I was about to work on Carlo Scarpa, an obvious candidate as he built the Venezuelan pavilion at the Venice Biennale—which has always fascinated me— when I recognized the formula and tried to avoid it; perhaps even the pavilion commission lacks the anecdote that justifies a wider story.
And yet, Scarpa´s story and use of concrete and structural ornament keeps on fascinating me, and he has, indeed, been present in my mind when developing the current series of works. Of course, painting is slow, and the works here also contain elements from the previous series, the 2013 series which was a utopian homage to a fictional meeting of Armando Reverón and Gio Ponti. That series had some elements, like the thin stripes, that are still present in these works. Made in summer 2014, these paintings actually lie somewhere between winter 2012 and February 2014. So even if Scarpa was in the studio, also present at the party were Ponti and Reverón. And in the real world, miles away, the protests on the streets of Venezuela were starting; they unavoidably entered the mix.
Guarimba is a Venezuelan word that could be translated as “makeshift barricade to block roads by people who stay around it protesting loudly”. Guarimbas were very active in spring 2014 on the streets of Venezuela as a way of protest to block normal life against the regime. Many youth have been detained around them and then imprisoned and tortured thereafter. There are no glimpses of freedom yet and few other ways to protest.
Now imagine the doors of the studio as a barricade that only lets some things come through. But the barricade is a response to what is happening. The gates are also the work, the work is a final guarimba that decides what can and cannot enter in it. A filter that is in itself a response to what is happening. Painting is a political act, but it is also slow.
London, September 2014
Jaime Gili was born in Caracas in 1972. Studied first in Caracas, at a tropical Bauhaus that failed to change the country, never mind the world; later at the University of Barcelona, where he learned to be a painter but nobody was there to witness, and finally at the Royal College of Art in London, the city where he found his voice as an artist, paradoxically, based upon the Venezuelan modern tradition that he carried within. He has exhibited widely in Europe and the Americas and works mainly in London, but also in Barcelona and Caracas. He has created large commissions in public and private buildings integrating painting in architecture, in England, the US and Venezuela. He is currently developing his second largest one, a mural for Baltus House, a Condo in the Miami Design District, which will be ready in 2015.