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Raimond Chaves and Gilda Mantilla
b. 1963, Bogotá
b. 1967, Los Angeles
Raimond Chaves, born in Bogotá in 1963 and raised in Barcelona, and Gilda Mantilla, born in Los Angeles in 1967 and raised in Lima, are life partners, and have been artistic collaborators since 2001 while also maintaining individual solo careers. Chaves received a degree in Fine Arts from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in 1989; Mantilla received a BFA from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú with honors in painting in 1990.
Drawing and nomadic experience are closely intertwined in Chaves and Mantilla’s collaborative undertakings. The artists’ itinerant practice reflects a critical engagement with the landscape and cultures of Latin America, past and present. They revisit the European traveler-artist tradition in the region and rearticulate the concept of “America“ in drawings of the region’s flora and fauna, and of its institutions. Chaves and Mantilla’s images offer an alternative to stereotypical, exoticizing views and official histories of Latin America by focusing on fragmentary and overlooked details of the region’s heterogeneous peoples and places.
In their long-term project Drawing America (2005–08), Chaves and Mantilla undertook a series of journeys through the continent using different modes of transportation. They began by traveling by road from Caracas to Lima—passing through Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—for one hundred days in 2005, and also drove from Lima to various destinations in the Amazon over the course of three weeks in 2006, and spent two months in Rio de Janeiro between 2007 and 2008. The artists recorded these journeys in a multipart cycle of drawings, which is organized into chapters with titles including Civil Construction, Decomposition of the Landscape, Dumb Botany, Natural History, Nature in Dispute, Portable Country, and Rainforest.
In Drawing America, Chaves and Mantilla undermine the empirical, classificatory approach of the traveler-artist by recording subjective impressions of place, capturing ephemeral natural phenomena such as light after a rainstorm. The artists also drew inspiration from anonymous and vernacular drawings encountered en route, including advertisements, murals, and portraits made by local street artists. There was a further participatory dimension to their peripatetic methodology: at stops along the way, the pair engaged audiences by organizing temporary exhibitions, drawing workshops (including collective mural drawing sessions), and talks.
Solo exhibitions of Chaves and Mantilla’s collaborative work have been presented at Casa de América, Madrid (2005); Centro Cultural de España, Lima (2007); ProjecteSD, Barcelona (2007 and 2010); Revolver Galería, Lima (2010 and 2012); and Alianza Francesa Lima Centro (2013). They participated in the group exhibitions the São Paulo Biennial (2006); Cut & Mix – Cultural Appropriation and Artistic Statement: Contemporary Art from Peru and Chile, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Berlin and Stuttgart; and Actos de Edición, Fundación Botín, Santander, Spain (both 2011); Subjective Projections, Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany; Cartografías contemporáneas: Dibujando el pensamiento, CaixaForum, Barcelona; Centro abierto, Museo de Arte de Lima and Fundación Telefónica, Lima; and Anywhere Better Than This Place, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California (all 2012); and A Trip from Here to There, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Un dilema: L’art contemporani i la inversió en la incertesa, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona; Salón (inter)Nacional de Artistas, Medellín; Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil; and Gabinete colectivo, FLORA ars+natura, Bogotá (all 2013). Chaves and Mantilla live and work in Lima.