18 August 2022 - 15 January 2023
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo /
Panama City, Panama
Installation view of "TrópicoGráficoMágico". Courtesy: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.
TrópicoGráficoMágico is a group exhibition at MAC Panama curated by Juan Canela.
Despite the difficulty inherent in the conservation of paper in the tropics, the influence of printmaking in Panama and in the region is undeniable. After her arrival in Panama in the seventies, the Colombian artist and engraver Alicia Viteri found a printing press in the basement of Panarte, the forerunner of the Museum of Contemporary Art, which had been gifted to the institute by American artist Christy Carleton Sass.
This plants the seed for the Panarte Graphic Arts Workshop, founded in 1979 by Viteri herself with the Panamanian artist Coqui Calderón, revitalizing printmaking as an artistic medium in Panama. The Graphic Arts Workshop became a pioneering model of artistic training and production, in which the printers Julián Velásquez and Leonardo Jordán were trained, and through which the great artists of the moment passed. The initial results were exhibited within the project entitled 11 engravings, which brought together eleven important creators – Guillermo Trujillo, Alfredo Sinclair, Antonio Alvarado, Julio Zachrisson, Coqui Calderón, Manuel Chong Neto, Eduardo Pérez, Juan Dal Vera, Tabo Toral, Luis Aguilar Ponce and Alicia Viteri – and which today are being shown to the public once again.
Along with the eleven prints, a selection of works from the MAC Panama Print Collection is presented, selected with the guidance of Milko Delgado, Isabel de Obaldía, Libertado Rojo and Julián Velásquez, four Panamanian artists from different generations who have also produced new works in the museum printing press for the exhibition. The pieces from the collection chosen for the occasion reflect a panorama of the different techniques, periods and themes explored in the graphic arts workshop. The images of Panamanian artists such as Hugo Bilbao, Alberto Dutary, Teresa Icaza, Alfredo Sinclair or Raúl Vásquez, or international artists such as Wilfredo Lam, Manuel Mendive, Juan Antonio Roda or Rufino Tamayo generate a universe of characters, landscapes and scenes that touch upon the Panamanian and Central American complexity. The works of Manuel Arias, Donna Conlon, Milko Delgado, Momo Magallón, Christian Pérez Vega and Alexander Wtges are testimonials of the first edition of the 2021 MAC Panama Graphic Laboratory, which signified the reactivation of the printing press and the work space in the museum.
The new outputs establish a dialogue between the collection, Panamanian graphic history, and the practices of the invited artists. Milko Delgado presents a series of posters, also displayed in the public space of the city and made with photosensitive solutions, in which the message “LOVE, RESPECT AND DIGNITY TOWARDS LIFE” can be read in Spanish on tropical botanical motifs. It is a work that touches upon the historical relationship of print techniques with posters in public space, as well the present social atmosphere in the country. Isabel de Obaldía presents a series of linoleum engravings in which various animal species often seen as vermin– opossums, bats or buzzards – take shape on backgrounds of different colors. Libertad Rojo’s drypoint engravings delve into an esoteric world in which the images tell us about magical offerings, community spaces or that which thrives in the margins. The works of Julián Velásquez, an essential figure in the field of Panamanian prints for his practice as an engraver and teacher, belong to the series Las curanderas (The healers), in which the figure of these important women is recognized, who with their knowledge administer medicinal care in Guna communities.
Shared history, cultural plurality, ancestral knowledge, the relationship with the non-human or the production of unusual knowledge take different shapes on all these sheets, forming a choreography of still images that perseveringly resist the passage of time and the tropical weather.
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Panamá:
Ave. de los Mártires con Calle San Blas,
Ancón Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá