von Bartha
S-chanf, Switzerland
30 July – 9 September 2017

Von Bartha, S-chanf announces an exhibition of new works from the Chilean artist Felipe Mujica, running from August 1 – September 9, 2017. Known for his two dimensional fabric works, Mujica’s practice encompasses installation, drawing, collapsible sculptures and printmaking. Appropriating the title from a 1970 album by the Norwegian psychedelic band Oriental Sunshine, the work is particularly influenced by Modernism and the international artistic, social and political movements of the late 60’s and 70’s. Mujica’s exhibition expands on von Bartha’s interest in Latin American art movements of the 20th Century, including Arte Concreto and Arte Madi.

Created specifically for von Bartha’s unique S-chanf gallery – a converted patrician house in the Swiss Alps – Mujica’s panels operate as both sculptural objects and functional architectural interventions. Placed internally and externally to the white cube space, the vibrant works serve as modifiable extensions to the gallery walls; some of the ‘curtains’ are movable, redirecting the viewer’s passage through the exhibition and thus positioning them as collaborators in the piece.

In calling his fabric pieces ‘curtains’, Mujica draws attention to the domesticity of their production; cut, folded, sewn, threaded, and sometimes hand-embroidered, Mujica relies on techniques that are closer to home than the art academy. Not overtly political, Mujica instead describes the works as ‘humble acts of resistance’, related to the artist‘s interest in geometric abstraction and both its formal and social/political possibilities – as witnessed across Russia, Europe and the Americas.

For the exhibition at von Bartha, Mujica has worked with members from the Bordadeiras do Jardim Conceição – a group of distinguished female embroiderers, living in the Jardim Conceição neighbourhood in the city of Osasco, Greater São Paulo. The group achieved their professional independence studying embroidery at the local Fundação Bradesco school for social development. Since then the cooperative has provided women with a renewed sense of community and solidarity, and the Bordadeiras are now an established and respected embroidery association for the area, and beyond. Mujica‘s finished works contain hours of energy from the hands of the Bordadeiras, each curtain offering a particular stitch – a kind of a drawing in itself – decided and executed by them.

Displayed alongside the fabric panels are a selection of Mujica’s silkscreen prints. Exploring the idea of a universal ‘visual language’ Mujica reuses, rearranges and reprints drawings and prints from the 60’s to 70’s (including Latin American political posters, psychedelia, Japanese graphic design and science fiction book covers) to investigate the power of the image, and examine the changing social and symbolic status of cross cultural references. Defying notions of locality, these images overlap and sometimes borrow or simply steal from each other: designs associated with psychedelia or Op Art are discernible across Chilean political posters, Japanese commercials, copyright-free image banks and international novels.

The works highlight the image‘s ability to morph and mediate between high and low culture, as well as across different geographies and contexts. Mujica sees the designs as imbedded within, and inseparable from, their historical context; notions of the communal and the collective, feminism and civil rights, sexual liberation, experimental pedagogies and the rise of countercultures are all perceivable with the silkscreen prints – presenting new readings of historically charged references.

About the artist

Felipe Mujica (b. 1974, Santiago, Chile) began his art education at the Universidad Católica de Chile and later co-founded the artist-run space Galería Chilena (1997 – 2005). In the 2000s, Mujica moved to New York City where he is currently based. His works have been exhibited internationally including solo shows at Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico D.F. (2014); The Shop – Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing (2009); Message Salon, Zürich (2008) and Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago (2004). His works were recently displayed at the Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo for the Bienal São Paulo (2016). The artist considers this exhibition as working ‘in conversation’ with his solo show at Casa Triangulo in São Paulo, which opened on May 20, 2017.