The eccentric architecture of indigenous Aymara architect Freddy Mamani has attracted intense global interest in the last few years. From a documentary about his work that debuted at the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam last year, to a 2015 exhibition at London's Architectural Association School of Architecture, the autodidact's distinctive style has welcomed a growing enthusiasm.
One of his colorful designs, a signature ballroom featuring playful Andean motifs, has been recreated for a new exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Jean Nouvel's glitzy modern art museum in Paris. Visitors enter the exhibition, Southern Geometries, from Mexico to Patagonia, through the multi-colored ballroom, beyond which they'll find other site-specific works by a range of Latin American architects including the Paraguayan partners Solano Benítez and Gloria Cabral.
The growing appreciation for Mamani's work has been matched by the increasing enthusiasm for the region more generally, which forms the basis for the new exhibition. Bringing together 250 artworks made by over 70 artists from the Pre-Columbian period to present, Southern Geometries tries to provide a comprehensive picture of the richness and diversity in Latin American architecture and design.
Featuring both ancient and contemporary works by abstract artists, sculptors, ceramicists, architects and more, the show threads together many styles, cultures, time periods and trends. A wide ranging collection, the commonality amongst them is the various approaches to geometric abstraction at the heart of each—the way the wire sculptures of Venezuelan artist Gego eschew formal rigor or how the photographs of Anna Mariana capture the colorful facades of the houses in north-eastern Brazil.
The exhibition is also meant to be an informative one, a self-aware admission that some of these works are getting a belated recognition in Europe. One of the goals stated by curators Marie Perennes, Hervé Chandès and Alexis Fabry, was to highlight under-recognized artists, like the large canvasses of the pioneering Cuban minimalist Carmen Herrera, whom hadn't sold a painting until the age of 89. Numerous other works, like those created by the Ishir Indians of Paraguay for ceremonies and rituals, are being presented here for the first time in Europe.
Now open, the exhibition will stay around for five months, closing late February, 2019. Of its expansiveness, the curators hope the diversity of the collection will foster a dialogue between all creative disciplines. "The exhibition highlights the visual relationships that bring together artists, cultures, rites, and symbols," they added.
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