RUYA MAPS’ inaugural project is this exhibition of work by Venezuelan artist Pepe López (b.1966). ‘Crisálida’ (trans. chrysalis) is López’s first solo exhibition in the UK and showcases the artist’s large-scale installation of the same name, originally shown at Espacio Monitor, Caracas in October 2017.
The installation is 18 metres in length and is composed of 200 objects wrapped in polyethylene film. Originating from the artist’s family home in Caracas, the objects include a car, a motorcycle, a piano and an urn, as well as books, tools, toys and maps. Their methodical arrangement suggests an imminent move or the need for storage. Examining notions around cocooning and mummifying, the work explores the powerful emotional charge of being uprooted or exiled and references the particular social drift extant in Venezuela, a country that has experienced near consistent political instability since the 1980s.
López is particularly preoccupied with the collective memory that can be said to be held by a place and the arrangement of the objects is also intended to suggest a cartography, both physical and narrative, of the collective memories of the citizens of Caracas.
A hybrid work, which is at once sculptural, pictorial and installation, Crisálida also incorporates the meta-artistic inclusion of a number of López’s artworks, as well as works in the artist’s own collection by well knownwell-known Latin American artists such as Rafael Barrios, Rodrigo Echeverri, Adrián Pujol and Jesús Soto. In addition, objects originally belonging to López’s grandparents are included. They reference another exile in López’s family history as they were brought to Venezuela when his grandparents fled Spain during the Civil War more than 70 years ago. The combination of owned, borrowed, found and gifted objects included in the work can be seen to represent the labour of such a departure and also the possibility for transformation that it implies.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication designed by Beirut-based graphic designer Farah Fayyad with photography by Julio Osorio. It will include essays by Tamara Chalabi and Elizabeth Marín Hernández, Associate Professor in Contemporary Art at the Universidad de los Andes, Mérida. In a pertinent continuation of the exhibition’s themes, all the objects included in the installation will be listed in the form of a shipping ledger. Thumb‑nailed entries, including unexpectedly personal descriptions of the inventory, will highlight the clash between the personal and the prosaic inherent in the preparation for any journey. The ledger’s reference to shipping procedures for the international loan and sale of artworks will also provide a provocative extension to López’s artistic investigation of exile.
Frontal installation view of Crisalida at Fitzrovia Chapel, London.
Close up of installation
Detail view of installation