Hugo Zapata

November, 16 - January, 12, 2018

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Song of the Earth
Carved shale and glass. 2017. 46 x 30 x 5 cm
Song of the Earth Cradle Cordillera Sinkhole Witness Outcropping Witness Sinkhole

COLOMBIAN SCULPTOR HUGO ZAPATA PRESENTS AFLORAMIENTOS AT GALERÍA ENLACE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO This Thursday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m., Galería de Arte Enlace Arte Contemporáneo, located at Av. Camino Real 1123, will inaugurate an individual exhibition of recent sculptures entitled AFLORAMIENTOS (OUTCROPPINGS) by the renowned Colombian master Hugo Zapata. Hugo Zapata, one of Colombia’s most distinguished sculptors of all time, was born in La Tebaida, Quindio, in 1945. At the age of one, he moved to Medellin. Even as an undergraduate, he displayed a strong interest in art. He focused on silk screening for many years, although he also found himself intrigued by stone. He studied plastic arts from 1963 to 1966 at the Universidad de Antioquia. In 1967, he began his long relationship with the Universidad Nacional de Medellin, Colombia, where he is now professor emeritus. In 1972, he graduated with a master’s degree in architecture from the Universidad Nacional in Medellin. While at the university, he began working at the geology laboratory, where he studied the hardness and brilliance of different rocks. “At some point, I became interested in three-dimensionality as it relates to rocks. The rocks I had already studied quite in-depth, and so I began to search them out with a specific intention in mind,” says Zapata. He thus gave himself over completely to sculpture. According to the artist, three-dimensionality is the closest one can get to humans and our reality. Master Hugo Zapata has shown his work in individual and collective exhibitions in Colombia since 1975. In 1978, he received an honorable mention at the II Salón de Artes Visuales. His first international show was in Caracas, Venezuela. Since then, his work has been exhibited in Mexico, France, Israel, China, Argentina, the United States, Belgium, Paris, Santiago, and elsewhere. His works are also on display in countless public places, both in Colombia and abroad. In Medellin, for example, the Universidad Eafit is home to his piece “Ágora” (“Agora”); while “Pórticos” (“Porticos”) can be found along the road to José María Córdova International Airport; and “Poniente” (“Setting Sun”) is held at the Banco de la República in Bogota. In 1998, he received the Premio Luis Caballero for his work “Mantos” (“Strata”). In 2000, he was commissioned to create the sculpture “Calice” (“Chalice”) for the Latin American Sculpture Park in Netanya, Israel; and in 2012, he was awarded the “Cafeto de Oro Artes Plásticas” Prize by the Municipal Council of Armenia, Quindio. The exhibition being presented at Galería Enlace consists of twenty recent sculptures made from a variety of materials, mainly shale. “In the face of nature, Hugo Zapata is struck by the same sense of wonder that primitive man must have felt: an astonishment at stone, a reverence for its motiveless, unnecessary beauty. Everything in nature could be cold and indifferent, and yet it is not. Why? Because we see it. The eye seeks out shapes in the clouds, in the waves, in the bark of trees, and, yes, in stones, too. And in those shapes it finds beauty. According to Zapata, his studio contains ‘a sown field of stones,’ which gradually sprout forth from themselves, flowering, showing that which is inside them. One morning, he discovers that a shape has appeared, a shape not seen before in the inert matter, and he says affectionately to the stone, ‘It is your turn today, my dear.’ And like Venus from the half-shell, the stone emerges from itself. Speaking to Juan Luis Mejía, the artist once commented that, ‘The bulk of the work is done by nature. All I do is transform those rocks, intercede in them, so that it appears to be my doing, but with help of nature itself.’ He does not chisel the rock to adapt it to any sort of cultural or animate form known to the world (a horse, table, man, god, prophet, throne, virgin, or child, for example). Instead, he polishes the rock’s own mineral form, respecting it, allowing us to enjoy its pure, inanimate rocky matter, now stripped to its essence. The only traces of life left behind in his sculptures are the ancient fossils. But he does not sculpt these into the stone; he discovers them and handles them gently, preserving them. And there, on the surface of the stones polished by Zapata’s hand, ammonites float like constellations, revolving in circles, ellipses, or spirals around one another. Hugo calls these circular forms ‘cunas,’ or ‘cradles,’ as in the ‘cradle of life,’ of the conscious world: in the polished stone, he sees the entire history of nature—what others call ‘Creation.’ The first sensation that Hugo Zapata’s sculptures inspire is a tactile one, as if they were made for a blind man to run his hands over the slick haunches of those stones with their shapes, evocative yet lacking any defined form. Stones that call to mind things found in nature: mountains, lakes, rocks, waterfalls, cordilleras, moons, seashells, valves, vulvas, vaginas, petals, phalluses, buttocks, pillows, the song of the water, humble pebbles, proud rocks, gigantic crags, millstones, veins, kidney stones, dances, celestial spheres, constellations, rivers. What might not be hidden in these stones? All the vital vortex of the world. What we were. What we will be once again. Stardust, stones. The only thing left when there is nothing left: stone upon stone.” – Héctor Abad Faciolince The exhibition AFLORAMIENTOS by the Colombian sculptor HUGO ZAPATA can be visited at Galería ENLACE ARTE CONTEMPORÁNEO through January 15, 2018, from Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Free and open to the public.