Artist: Sandra Gamarra

What Made us Modern / Crisp Images in a Humid Environment
March 22 – May 3, 2014
Galería Leme
São Paulo, Brazil

The Madrid-based Peruvian artist, founder of the fictitious and virtual museum LiMac, will present at Galeria Leme What Made us Modern / Crisp Images in a Humid Environment, her fourth solo exhibition in São Paulo.

Given the current promise of modernization in Peru, to be understood as the real presence of the state in the country and therefore as a right to citizenship for each individual, this exhibition reflects on what happened in Peru during the first era of the uncompleted modernity and on what signified its posterior lack of concretization.

“An attempt to make crisp images in a humid environment” is how the sociologist Aníbal Quijano describes the impossibility to do vanguard poetry in Lima, which can also be extrapolated to the field of visual arts. The crisp images to which Quijano speaks of refer to machines, to the industry and to the new ideas that, in a city like Lima, without nearby industries and without technical development, were impossible to create and disseminate. This moist environment not only refers to the real humid climate of Lima but also to the “social humidity” that is the product of the yet ongoing effervescence of an imposed nationalism, the vapors of a slowly cooked multiculturalism and the permanent oxidation of the social processes.

However, as the state had not been capable to concretize its proper modernization, its unfulfilled promise became the breeding ground so that years later terrorists groups began to emerge in the country during the 1980´s and 90´s. This violence was necessary, so that Peruvians began to see themselves as a multicultural and a plural society.

Utilizing the iconic “Homage to the Square” paintings by the artist Joseph Albers as a starting point, images of the terrorist violence of the 80´s in Peru has been included in an almost invisible manner. To reveal themselves, it is necessary to get close to the painting, a contrary movement to what modern paintings proposed. Similarly, the series that is named after the exhibition title, What Made us Moderns, consists of 10 paintings that creates a gradient of grey and have the exact same measurements of the concrete blocks of which the gallery is made of. In such a way, the works surrender themselves to the architecture and, in the artist’s vision, live with it in a fully modern act. If we look at them from far away, this gradient made out of a Kodak scale of grey coexists without friction with the architecture. But in each corner of the paused, measured and clinic monochromes, a set of pictures appear and break this transition. These images tell us about a constant that is of capital and latent permanence.

The videos entitled “Abstractions”, “Natural Landscape” and “Ashes to Ashes” are three reflections on the delicate relation between the pre-Columbian heritage, the rural present and Western culture in the light of the promises of development and modernization.

Sandra Gamarra was born in Lima, Peru, in 1972. She lives and works in Madrid. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including the shows Setting the Scene, Tate Modern, London, UK (2012); At the Same Time, Bass Museum of Art, Miami, USA (2011); XI Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador (2011); Fiction and Reality, MMOMA, Moscow, Russia (2011); Arte al Paso, Colleción Contemporanea del  Museo Arte  de Lima, Estação Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brazil (2011);  29ª Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Fundação Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil (2010); 53ª Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2009). Her work is in private and public collections such as MUSAC, León, Spain; MoMA, New York, USA and Tate Modern, London, UK.