March 7 - April 13, 2019
opening reception: Friday, March 8, from 6-8pm
Josee Bienvenu is pleased to present “The Absence,” Johanna Calle’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Curated by Alexis Fabry, the exhibition brings together works created by the Colombian artist over the past six years. Drawing on a range of archival and deciphering techniques often associated with everyday life, Johanna Calle addresses the violence of recent Colombian history, issues of social justice, biodiversity, gender roles, and linguistic conventions. Using unusual materials such as wire, thread, steel, or metal mesh, and techniques such as sewing, cutting, perforating and typing, Calle dramatically extends the range of drawing in powerful and delicately crafted works.
Photography occupies a special place in Johanna Calle's work. In the series Lapsus, she appropriates anonymous photographs gleaned from here and there, voiding them of their content to leave only the edges, while in the series tellingly entitled Cachés, she uses the cardboard mountings of old photographic portraits as support for constructivist collages.
In Compendium, she intervenes an old accounting book, into which pages in the 1950s and 1960s, a Colombian woman had glued various newspaper clippings that caught her attention or reflected her concerns at the time: a sort of “public journal.” The artist crosses out or transforms the headlines, overlaying them with other images, negatives, and photographic plates.
In Perímetros, it is neither photographic paper nor the accessories of the trade that constitute the primary element of her work, but rather the typed text of the agrarian law of 2011. On the blank pages of old land registry books, it takes the outlines of trees, planted by landless campesinos.
In these four series, the artist explores notions of memory and disappearance. Tens of thousands of people have been driven away from their homes or killed during the civil wars and political violence that have ravaged Colombia in decades past. “To efface, to cut out, to replace, to salvage ―explains Johanna Calle― is to show what is missing. And however one goes on, there is always something left over that designates the absence: often just barely visible traces. One might say that these procedures are particular strategies, undertaken on purpose and in various ways to modify a surface by means of a deliberate gesture.”
Johanna Calle was born in 1965 in Bogotá, Colombia, where she lives and works. She received her BA from the University of los Andes in Bogotá in 1989 and her Master’s degree at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 1993. Selected exhibitions include: Dibujos/Dessins, La Maison de l’Amérique latine, Paris (2017); The Valise, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); Silentes 1985-2015, Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, Bogota, travelled to Museum Amparo, Puebla, Mexico (2015); América Latina 1960-2013, at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris (2013); Marking Language, the Drawing Room, London (2013); When Attitudes Became Form Become Attitudes, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco (2012); The Air We Breathe, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011). She has been included in numerous international biennials such as The Sidney Biennial (2016), The Sao Paolo Biennial (2014); SITE Santa Fe (2014) and the Istanbul Biennial (2014). Her work is included is various institutions such as MOMA, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Blanton Museum, Austin, Museum of Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Museum of Bogota; National Museum of Colombia.