Pass i Flora

A view of Colombia’s contemporary artistic creation

By Gerardo Zavarce, Okyo Gallery, Caracas, 2013

The artistic work that Ana González (1974) presents in the Okyo gallery (Caracas, Venezuela, September 2013) is an opportunity to explore in a succinct manner the path that emerging Colombian art is following. We can assume that her creative stance develops as an expression of several searches and traditions that are typical in our latitude, characterized by diversity, mobility, incessant transformation and conflict, which are elements that catalyze creative experiences.

Pass i Flora

In Pass i flora, Ana González is inspired by Colombian nature and its landscapes as a metaphor of the nation, of its contingent character, of the local stories, of the gender viewpoints, of the handicraft trade and the open processes that haven’t healed yet, due to the Colombian armed conflict.

In her artistic work there is a convergence of perspectives that enables a particular poetic construction that is closely related to tradition and to land representation as a place to conceptualize the experiences of realities. This means that for González, landscape and nature are a way of articulating the idea of a transformed and transforming context and the development of its dwellers.

González is an heir to the tradition of naturalistic representation of the XVIII and XIX centuries that can be seen mainly in the works of the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada, directed by the wise man José Celestino Mutis (Cádiz, Spain, 1732 – Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia, 1808). This way, the same as the artist Francisco Javier Matis (Guaduas, Colombia, 1774 – Santa Fé de Bogotá, Colombia, 1851) considered the best of an excellent generation of botanical painters and responsible for many representations that make up the visual heritage of the Botanical Expedition, Ana González assumes the representation of the Passiflora flower (Parchita [VEN], Maracuyá [BRA]). However the intention is not about taxonomy or a catalog of species. What the creator does is assume the Passiflora’s flower representation as a renovation strategy for the pass i flora, as a word game that reminds us of a new horizon of meaning. What she intends to do is to give us a symbolic restoration of a new balance that has been lost in the violence of Colombia’s political conflict.

In the set of artworks that conform Pass i Flora, the artist reminds us of the renovating qualities of nature and childhood to conjure a broken reality. She tries to build a timeless space that serves as a context to heal the social body. We then perceive in the pieces that make up this work how the plants emerge to weave and take root in the bodies that have been separated from their individual and collective context.

These representations sprout the metaphorical scheme of a society that is reborn, that wants to be reborn. That is why it appeals to innocence, to the timeless space of a fairy tale, to wake up and continue the course of its history. That is what it is all about, to achieve the continuity of history’s course by evocating images, the state of emergency against the state of emergency, as proposed by the Colombian researcher Ana María Ochoa Gautier. But it is important to highlight that this does not ennoble the image of violence, it shows it as memory, as an antidote against amnesia and absolute impunity. That is why she uses the First Communion’s dress as the last trace of dignity, of the rooting of a displaced innocence. That is why she uses the image of plant life as a projection of nature, as a metropolitan setback, that constitutes the margins of national life and keeps renovation as life’s essence.

It seems as though she intended to reverse the expression that José Eustasio Rivera wrote in his novel La Vorágine: “This poor country is not known by its own children, not even by its own geographers.” In response to Rivera, the Pass i Flora artworks state, in their own way, that the Colombian territory is recognized by its creators and artists. And as a visual reporter, Ana González does not only want to show what is happening, but makes us wonder at the possibility of transformation. It is like a poetic renewal, a way of inhabiting the territory from the wish of evocating images; of recovering from sensitivity what is a rooted culture, what makes up a specific set of realities, perhaps waiting for its white childhood dress in order to continue the course of its evolution that has been paused in time.