Colombian artist, Santiago Montoya, opens one of the most eagerly awaited exhibitions of the year, Improbable Landscapes at Halcyon Gallery’s New Bond Street space, on 5th June 2014. Montoya’s second solo exhibition coincides with London’s International Latin American Art Fair Pinta, 10-14th June at London’s Earls Court where Montoya’s work will be on show.
Improbable Landscapes explores the aesthetics of materials in order to introduce meaning and challenge perceived truths. A striking culmination of the artist’s endeavours over the past two years, more than 35 new works have been produced for this show between Montoya’s native Colombia and his current studio in Miami, Florida.
Featured in the exhibition is a series that the artist first launched at Pinta Art Fair in London, back in 2011. Entitled Forgive me Father for I have Painted, a set of over 30 methacrylate resin blocks have been imbedded with Montoya’s own paint brushes and used tubes of acrylic paints. These pieces work in response to the conflict over painting within the contemporary arts, particularly the fascination and development within new media and technology, thus resulting in the condemnation of the classical and art historical techniques. A brush and tube of paint are now fossilised; frozen in time to be seen as a way of the past. Montoya opens this debate as he asks, “if painting is a means and not an end in itself, why all the fuss?”
Another focus of the exhibition, large scale Jacquard-style tapestries will be showcased for the first time. Montoya continues to explore the psychological aesthetic, as well as the cultural and ritualistic aspects of currency, across new and textural surfaces. Redefining the iconography once printed on paper bills is now a richly woven story, depicting scenes of somewhat conceivable yet non-existent landscapes. These new interpretations present a concept of what is really at stake in our ‘new’ economic and cultural landscape, while harking back to early Modernism when tapestries were not only portable, but were indicative of enormous wealth and standing. Digitally printed onto the textiles, these works pay homage to the modern tradition of pointillism which originated during a time of social and economic unrest in Europe dating back over a century yet still relevant today.
Collecting words, quotes and phrases found in political speeches and articles, Montoya strategically allows the chosen words and images, now removed from their original context, to be seen anew, creating a new dialogue and a dynamic tension between the text and their accompanying scenes. Carefully selected and designed, through these highly personal works the artist aims to uncover harsh realities and continues to debate our assumptions.
To mark the exhibition, a comprehensive monograph of Montoya’s oeuvre dating from 2008 to the present will be published, including texts by Justine Ludwig, Curator at the Contemporary Arts Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio, Robin Greeley, Professor of Modern & Contemporary Latin American Art History, UCONN, and edited by Professor Jose Luis Falconi, Art Forum Curator at the David Rockefeller Centre for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.