Cecilia Brunson Projects presents the upcoming solo exhibition, Loop, by renowned Venezuelan artist Jaime Gili. The exhibition explores the eternally spiralling ideas that connect Gili’s artistic, family and national history. We met up with Jaime to tell us more.
Could you explain a little bit about what was happening culturally in Venezuela during 1968? What was it that drew you to this place in time and culture?
I am Venezuelan by birth, and also by what I have lived until now, even if I have lived in London for over twenty years already. This fate – where one is / feels from – like everyone else’s fate, depends on chance and coincidences, and often on decisions taken by other people, in this case, by my father during that year, 1968.
Few countries, at certain moments in their history, have had a mix of wealth and potentiality for growth, (and a rich mix of cultures to move the engine) as clearly as Venezuela had back then. The oil wealth was starting to be thought of as something that needed to be invested in and taken care of, to make the whole population be able to enjoy it in the present and the future. Time has given us the perspective to see that all that huge promise was just an illusion, I am from a country that never was. It was a dream, though a dream that many still share. Politically the turmoil was not as complex as in Europe, because some democratic ‘stability’ was evident after years of dictatorship. However the questioning of such incomplete ‘stability’ was fuelling questions in the arts as well.
A more specific answer is that Venezuela has a tradition of ‘integration of the arts’ shared with other Latin American countries. In those years it was flourishing with architects like Carlos Raúl Villanueva advancing on the steps of Le Corbusier (but without the ego) and created environments to live where the visual arts were part of the whole architectural experience. Each one of the arts connected not only to the viewers, but also to each other: music and painting and sculpture, drama, architecture, etc. I think that is the single, most important teaching from Venezuelan modernism that I draw from.
For this show, you explored not only Venezuelan history, but also your own artistic archives. How did you find looking back through your own designs, and how did you build on them?
Painters do this naturally, it is normal to make more plans than finished works!
But I am particularly interested in repetition, in theory and in practice. I have studied the reasons why we go back to the same works from the past, and I know that we actually learn about our present when we go back to past works and ideas. This was in fact the subject of study in my years of academy. I am also quite organised in the studio and, having practised continuously for a few years, I have many unfinished ideas in the archive that are very easy for me to draw from and complete.
Your exhibition explores the links and the differences people have made across different times. A key point in its genesis is reading your father’s diaries from the period that he moved from Spain to Venezuela. You moved from Venezuela to London: did you discover that your reasons were similar, or do you feel that with time, these things inevitably become very different experiences?
This is an interesting question. What I have learned from this revision is that the countries of the world are increasingly, stupidly, relentlessly, closing off borders and becoming more selfish. My father fled from a county that was in a full throttle dictatorship, but amazingly could chose, from within, amongst several options. Other countries, more than one, wanted skilled, but basic industrial workers, just like my dad was. I don´t think this is the case now, anywhere you look. We are more and more people, very ‘connected’, but we are very alone and isolated.
You are primarily an abstract artist. In your performance on the 25th, Loop Pavilion, you join the Venezuelan artists over fifty years before who branched out into performance: how did you find working in these different mediums?
At Cecilia Brunson Projects we will be doing a multi-screen video and slide projection activating the gallery space and the paintings installed, juxtaposing images from several generations of creators to tell a story, or two. It is indeed very interesting for me to work with time based media and specially to have to ask for help and collaborations. The work as a painter can be very lonely sometimes, alone in the studio in endless sessions full of joy but alone. This event I have gotten myself into is the opposite in so many ways. Involves a lot of people, includes time, it begins and ends, etc…
In fifty years, how do you think, or how do you hope, people will respond to your work?
This is a difficult question, because it also includes how I imagine people, museums, archives and the internet will be functioning in fifty years. If works are still kept, shown, analysed, curated, maybe mine should join other works that tried to save certain things from Modernism that were good for the future, and who made new connections through continents and history to keep the threads alive, knitting some sort of common history. Who knows?
Cecilia Brunson Projects, 2G Royal Oak Yard, Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3GD from 17 February – 18 March 2022. An opening reception with the artist will take place on Thursday 17 February 2022 from 17-20 at Cecilia Brunson Projects.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10.00-18.00
Weekends / outside opening hours: by appointment
Closed between exhibitions, on public holidays and public holidays
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