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Ignacio Bahna exhibits at YAM Gallery

By Marie Moébius

In 2005, Chilean artist Ignacio Bahna began the construction of his house 900 kilometers south of Santiago de Chile, situated in a wild landscape at an altitude of 2,000 meters and surrounded by three volcanoes—Quetrupillan, Villarica, and Lanin. Bahna would start there with an artistic practice in harmony with the environment. On March 3 of this year, the earth suddenly began to roar. The sky went reddish and volcanic black stones blanketed the floor. The Villarica volcano had erupted. A few months later, a cloud made of the ashes from another erupting volcano—Calbuco, situated 300 km from Bahna’s house—left the entire landscape covered with a grey coat. Those two events left Bahna with the sensation that this precise place was able to attract all the geological sediments of the area like a magnet. Last but not least, a forest fire (caused by humans this time) burned down thousands of acres of native forest in the same region, leaving the landscape in complete chaos.

“Magma,” Sculpting Nature’s Fury
By Ignacio Bahna
Wed, Nov 25, 7pm
YAM Gallery
Ancha de San Antonio 20

Ignacio Bahna began a profound reflection on the apocalypse he had experienced and the romantic version of environment that is build up by people who are not in true contact with nature. It became urgent for him to pass on the natural processes he had witnessed in his artistic work.

“Magma” is the result of his investigation through the carbonized landscapes of his southern region. Observing the effects of volcanic explosions, examining the wastes expulsed by the mountain and spread all over, considering the strength of destruction through fire and commotion, Bahna went collecting found objects from the ground, bending his back in a gesture of salvaging the fruits after a disaster. He gathered pieces of wood turned to charcoal that he would later integrate into his mural sculptures. Attracted by the light of fire, Bahna uses a special material, picoyo, a kind of amber that results from the decomposition of the Araucaria tree, cut into slim slices. Translucent, it takes a vibrant fire-like color when light is applied to it. Using the technology of LED, the picoyo is mounted together with the charcoal wood, and the sculptures appear on the wall as cracks on the skirts of a volcano, glowing in the dark. When looking at the sculptures, it is impressive to think those materials come from so far away and had to go through such a transformation to get to us.

With this exhibition, YAM Gallery continues with its artistic residency program. After receiving Algerian artist Massinissa Selmani in 2014 for six weeks, Ignacio Bahna from Chile is YAM’s resident during the whole month of November, and Bahna has received a scholarship from the Mexican Agency for Development (AMEXCID). Bahna’s time in San Miguel will be dedicated to completing his “Magma” project with drawings produced in San Miguel, as well as an installation in situ, made of local materials collected by the artist on the Palo Huérfano volcano, also known as Mount Picacho, in San Miguel de Allende. This exhibition is the first one for the Chilean artist in Mexico. It’s a must see in San Miguel this week!


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