Catalogue of Artworks: “Alquimia” by Georgina Ciotti
“Alquimia” is the new exhibition by Georgina Ciotti at UNION Gallery. In this, her first solo show, the artist contemplates the dichotomy of human nature and animal instinct in a striking collection of original artworks which center on alchemy as a metaphor for a transformative process.
In these artworks, human figures twist and merge with the Saí and Ocelote, animals indigenous to Misiones, Argentina, creating a striking contrast between the pictorial elements in a palette of bold cobalt and the symbolism of delicate gold leaf, which floats over the coal-tinged black background.
Georgina Ciotti is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work has spanned muralism, sculpture, design, illustration and special effects. Currently specializing in muralism, she has previously worked extensively in art and special effects for cinema, publicity and theatre with directors like Peter Greenaway, Pedro Almodóvar and Spike Lee, among others. Ciotti also participated as conceptual designer in cinema for: DOOM by Andzei Bartkowiak, Hellboy I, Hellboy II, and was a member of the Oscar winning team for best special effects makeup in Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro.
View and download the catalogue of artworks here.
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After years of compiling images and theories, while creating incredible murals in cities across the world, Elian brings together content generated during the period of 2013 – 2015 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, USA, France, England, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Dominican Republic, Russia and Uruguay.
The book takes a look at arquitecture, urbanism and photography as well as the artist’s own reflections, and includes a prologue by Martha Cooper, beloved North American anthropologist and photographer, who witnessed and documented the birth of the underground culture in New York.
According to Chali, Habitat emerges from his attempt to comprehend our urban surroundings. This search for meaning was the motive which initiated the task of analyzing the city as a phenomenon: its configuration, its genetic makeup, and its future.
“These artists are part of a movement, of a greater collective, which has enriched the arts with new experiences, both for artists and for art consumers.
The central concept of the exhibition is the context; the street, the public space, and the descriptions of different situations taken and put on display by each artist. We are witness to how they are affected by this space, how they process it, and what historic events get recreated in their memories.
They give back to the streets something of what they receive from it, bringing something of the outdoors in, in order appreciate anew our common meeting place, the public space.”
– From the curatorial text of the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts
On May 19 not one, but six exhibitions opened in the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts. However, we were interested in one in particular. Curated by Kosovo Gallery, the exhibition “Pioneros de un viaje a ningún lado,” (Pioneers of a Trip to Nowhere) brings together a group of artists who are the first representatives of the urban art movement to set foot in Cordoba’s museum of Fine Arts.
The night of the opening the room was packed with a sea of animated people flowing past the various works spanning Museum Hall 5. But despite the warmth of the crowd, it was cold because Nicolas Romero Escalada, also known as Ever, froze his work. Literally. On the back of his large-scale portrait, which he called “Idealism as a metaphor applied to reality,” there is a cooling system that maintains the low temperature that has created the ice chunks seen on the face of the protagonist. Approximately 29.4% of the work is frozen and this represents the percentage of children in this province living below the poverty line (according to a survey of the Catholic University). This data is blood-chilling. So is the artwork. This installation is accompanied by a looped projection of a sort of modern Christ (the actor Carlos Rogers) who walks through the city under the weight of the Communist symbol. We see again and again how this suffering man drags his modern cross in front of the eyes of society.
Julián Manzelli is also known as Chu, and since his beginnings in Doma (the mythical art collective), his artistic vision has always had a playful spin. However, behind his affable character creations, our cultural identity is analysed. This time, the artist presents “Urban anomalies and the development of a circle.” Representations of those urban landscapes where concrete planning is overcome by spontaneously generated improvisation. The “urban absurd”, as the artist calls them, are pieces that unfold on the table, breaking the schematic monotony, challenging perspectives and appealing to error and genius at the same time.
Tec is a local artist who divides his time between Brazil and Argentina. He knows very well what happens in the street, as he has never stopped painting its walls. He knows their history, and both their roots and that of thousands of Cordobeses, are the inspiration for the reflection “Watch your Head”. This is an installation that covers the entire wall in which workers’ texts and helmets are interwoven. Tec draws our attention to a key moment in the history of Córdoba: The Cordobazo and general unity of the labor movement with the students. An interesting fact: Tec has family members who were part of the worker and student resistance, and it is this close connection that continues to drive him out into the streets.
A third wall addresses the history of the province of Cordoba in a piece by Franco Fasoli, also known as Jaz. One of the pilars of Jaz’s work is the identity and violence found in different cultures. This time, Franco Fasoli takes the confluence of the past and the present as the place from which the painting rethinks the construction of identity. The contrast of images evokes the determination and ability to face giants. In this case the local neighborhood Alberdi gives rise to the piece entitled “First free territory of America”, which was created with the assistance of the locals. Once alone with the work, Franco Fasoli added finishing touches and, upon completion of the show, the work inspired by the streets will be reinstated back to its home.
The last installation that is part of Pioneers, also belongs to a local artist: Elian Chali. This artist’s works are a constantly evolving exercise because they are holistic compositions created within the public space, which are at one with their surrounding environments. “Urban Hygiene” proposes a reflection on the mechanisms that determine the collective behavior, and and the ways in which the public then reinterprets these mechanisms. It invites citizens to question the elements which, in their place of origin, make up the parameters of the concept of living, which allows the reconfiguration of its transient role, of its public morals, ultimately recognizing their domain.
So there they are, the Pioneers of a trip to nowhere. They have come this far and we can not wait to see what their next destination is. Be sure to check out this amazing exhibition at the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts in Cordoba before it closes on July 28th.
Words by Ana Laura Montenegro
Images by Daniel Luján, courtesy of the Francisco Caraffa Provincial Museum of Fine Arts
Interview: Georgina Ciotti Talks About her Upcoming Exhibition ‘Alquimia’
We spoke with Georgina Ciotti ahead of ‘Alquimia’, which opens Friday June 10th at UNION Gallery. In this exhibition the artist contemplates the dichotomy of human nature and animal instinct in a striking collection of original artworks, which center on the concept of alchemy as a metaphor for self-transformation and material metamorphosis in the creation of artwork.
‘Alquimia’ is my first solo show. I never wanted to do one before because I didn’t really like the idea of exhibiting my work. I feel like now it’s a good opportunity, and UNION seemed like a good place, since for me it depends a lot on the energy and the relationship I have with the people I’m doing the project with. When I choose to do a mural, I have to have a good vibe with the client as well, so for me it’s the same when I choose to work with a gallery.
A lot of my experiences from my time in Misiones, Argentina have become part of the concept for this show. I went on a trip to Misiones for a month after my mother died, to be in the middle of the jungle with someone from my childhood that lives there without electricity and without running water, in these cabins he built there. It was a very intense time for me.
In Misiones you’ll find the Ocelot and the Sai. The Ocelot is a small feline, and the Sai is a blue bird. The friend I stayed with asked me to create a piece for him when I was there so I started working with these animals, which are indigenous to that region.
For me, alchemy encompasses everything; from the terrestrial to the spiritual. It can also represent the dualities of masculinity and femininity, as well as the volatile and the corporeal. Alchemy is about a search, rather than concrete answers. My experience in Misiones transformed me, but I think these transformations are happening all the time. Alchemy is like a fractal, it’s everywhere but we’re not aware of it. The creative process is an alchemy. You see the artist’s materials, and then how these get transformed into artworks.
In this exhibition, the viewer reconstructs the pieces themselves, participating in artworks that play with the limits of the abstract and the figurative. I’ve been doing a lot of research on neuroscience and human behaviour, and in these pieces are references to the famous Rorschach ink blot tests. Some of the images in the artworks are mirrored, causing the viewer’s perspective to shift between seeing something figurative or something more symbolic and cultural. In one piece you might see the face of a tiger, or an African mask, while internally they’re really other things.
For me, the studio work is a laboratory for the work in the street. What happens in the studio, and in exhibitions, and in moments of introspection like these ones, is the raw material that is then used in the streets. But it’s also true that not everything you do inside can be done outside; an erotic series could be controversial for example, although I would love to do it.
I started painting in the street because I didn’t have any space to paint indoors. I was living in Barcelona in a shared flat so I started there, it was more free then. Over time my work changed, the street always changes you.
I think of a mural like a type of oasis in the desert. I’ve had moments where I just want to create some beauty in the street, leaving behind something that people will stop and look at, in order to generate a place where people can be at peace for a moment.
The street art scene in Buenos Aires today is very trendy. When I returned in 2010 after living for a decade in Barcelona the scene was very open and now it’s really fashionable. It would be great if we could prevent it from being absorbed further by the system. On one hand I feel like true street art is dead, but on the other I think it’s nice what’s happening, because there are lots of people painting and with so much freedom, which doesn’t happen in a lot of countries. But spaces are also becoming more regulated.
People have a philosophy about their work, but then at the same time you are forced to negotiate with reality, and that can result in contradiction. For example with street art festivals, they give you a space to paint, but it’s controlled. Festivals are great promotion, and they make you a star, but there’s a compromise that you have to make. I’ve done it before and it’s great, because you’re surrounded by friends and colleagues, and you learn a lot from everyone else, but I would never put myself in a position where my work is censored. I’ve always done what I wanted.
The streets are a good place to exercise your political rights. The situation right now makes me think of what you see in the U.S., where they give people a special place to protest, so that you ultimately need their permission to express yourself. I think that a place where you see the walls painted is a place where the people are active and involved socially.
Art is a representation of the paradigm of the times, and i think that at the moment art is becoming more holistic, and that reflects what’s happening in the world.