artist / participant


press release

Centro Cultural Matucana 100 in Santiago de Chile presents Juan Dávila: imagen residual/After Image, Chile's first retrospective exhibition of Australian-Chilean artist Juan Dávila, curated by Paco Barragán.

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Matucana 100, our curator has conceived a challenging exhibition of around 50 works, spanning from 2001 to 2016, by Juan Dávila (1946, Santiago de Chile), one of the key figures in the Chilean art scene and member of Escena de Avanzada.

Dávila emigrated to Melbourne in 1974, some months after the Pinochet coup. Between Australia and Chile, Dávila created an impressive and coherent pictorial oeuvre that revolved around critical issues, such as neo-colonial dominance, the excessive influence of the Catholic Church and its relationship to the economic and political elites, the rights of non-heteronormative members of society, the discrimination and marginalization of the Mapuches (Chile's first nation) and Aboriginal Australians, and feminine jouissance.

"After my retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney in 2006," says Juan Dávila, "which included works from the '70s until 2006 and my participation at Documenta in 2007, this exhibition at Matucana 100 in Santiago de Chile is one of the most important exhibitions in my career. I'm very happy that I can talk through my art after being an immigrant for more than 40 years."

The exhibition Juan Dávila: imagen residual/After Image puts an end to Dávila's long absence from the institutional art scene in Chile.

In this sense, Barragán remarks: "Juan Dávila is one of Chile's major internationally respected artists. His work constitutes a challenging and fascinating counter-history to the hegemonic, authoritarian, linear, white, masculine and monolithic political and art historical readings. I'm very happy to have finally put an end to this lack of acknowledgement of Dávila and his work by the Chilean art scene, which I found incomprehensible, anachronistic and unjust."

Dávila has always been a painter, even when it was considered outdated or anti-intellectual. Juan Dávila: imagen residual/After Image displays a large array of media—from video-projection to murals, big paintings on canvas to gouaches and intervened posters with acrylic—that showcase the stylistic consistency, quality and conceptual coherence of a pictorial practice that throughout the years has become an imaginative exercise of expanded painting.

For Matucana 100 Dávila has painted an impressive canvas of 200 x 1000 meter en plein air titled Wallmapu, in which the artist reflects on the political meaning of landscape. Furthermore, he has also conceived a site-specific mural Performative 3D Representation in which he combines abstraction and figuration and recreates one of his iconic figures: The Liberator Simón Bolívarwhich depicts a transsexual, un-heroic Simón Bolívar flipping you off; when exhibited at the Hayward Gallery in 1994 the work caused a diplomatic incident. There is hardly a confronting image capable of conceiving so many layers at the same time: mestizaje, social class, colonization, sexual emancipation, machismo....

The exhibition is further complemented with a unique 42-minute retrospective adopting the form of a video compilation of Juan Dávila's oeuvre, from the '70s to the present, and a documentary of Juan Dávila by Dutch filmmaker Pauline Senn.

Coinciding with the end of the exhibition, a Spanish-English bilingual catalogue will be published, edited by Paco Barragán with an interview by Kate Briggs, texts by Russell Storer and Paco Barragán, and a selection of texts written by the artist.

The exhibition has been generously sponsored by the Australian Council for the Arts. Juan Dávila is represented by Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, Melbourne.