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Santander Group City Art Room, Madrid, Spain


February 3 - April 30, 2010

Director Daros Latinamerica Collection: Hans Michael Herzog

The Daros Collection, one of the most important contemporary Ibero-American art collections in the world, arrives in Spain with an exhibition of 70 works and 22 artists presenting the current Ibero-American art from the aesthetic, conceptual, and allegorical aspects. The exhibition proposes a permanent interaction between the work and the public in a true challenge for the senses.

“At the heat of the thought. Works from the Daros Latinamerica Collection ”, is the title of the exhibition that, from February 3 to April 30, 2010, is being organized by the Banco Santander Foundation in the Santander Group City Art Room. The Director of the Banco Santander Foundation, Borja Baselga, and the Director of the Daros Latinamerica Collection, Hans Michael Herzog, accompanied by several artists participating in the exhibition such as Julio Le Parc, Humberto Vélez, Oswaldo Macia Gómez, or Los Carpinteros inaugurated the exhibition together with the Commissioner, Katrin Steffen.
“It is not just another exhibition,” said Borja Baselga, Director of the Banco Santander Foundation at the press conference, “each of the pieces has an intellectual, social background, a different way of approaching reality, the imaginary, to the extreme situations of our society ”.

There are twenty-two artists and seventy creations that not only make up a selection of the highlights of the Daros Latinamerica Collection - the most important in Europe in contemporary Ibero-American art - but also reflect its essence in a spectacular assembly that continuously dialogues with the public through each and every one of his proposals from the conceptual to the aesthetic and allegorical, as Liliana Porter proposes so that we become transformers of her work by tearing it off and throwing it to the ground, constituting capricious forms.
Also, noteworthy, for the first time in the Daros Collection is the exhibition of the work of José Damasceno, The Next Presage, Leandro Erlich, The Doors, various engravings by Liliana Porter, and the performance drawings by Marta Minujín.

This is a journey through the classical masters of contemporary art from the Ibero-American continent from Mexico to Argentina passing through Brazil in a space of three thousand square meters. Prestigious authors not only aesthetic but also symbolic and committed, such as Carlos Amorales, Belkis Ayón, Los Carpinterios, José Damasceno, Gonzalo Díaz, Leandro Erlich, León Ferrari, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Jorge Macchi, Oswaldo Macia Gómez, Marco Maggi, Cildo Meireles, Marta Minujín, Vik Muniz, Óscar Muñoz, Julio Le Parc, Liliana Porter, José Alejandro Restrepo, Miguel Ángel Rojas, Betsabé Romero, Doris Salcedo and Humberto Vélez.

A review of the extensive range of proposals that includes contemporary Ibero-American art - visual and auditory arts, virtual reality, social symbolism, modes of cognition and perception - from the most veteran present authors, León Ferrari (1920) and Julio Le Parc (1928 ) to the youngest such as Leandro Erlich (1973), Los Carpinteros (1971) or Carlos Amorales (1970).

The title of the exhibition, At the heat of the thought, comes from a fascinating work by Chilean Gonzalo Díaz inspired by the 18th-century German poet, Novalis, specifically in the words which he begins his collection of fragments known as Blütenstaub (Pollen grains): "We look everywhere for the unconditioned and we find only things." The appointment is written by means of electrical resistances placed on ceramic tiles and it is heated at regular intervals until it turns red hot. This continuous interaction is what makes this show and its assembly unique.


Ayate Car, by the Mexican Betsabé Romero, part happening and part installation is a Ford Victoria car decorated and upholstered in dry roses that dialogues in the foreground of the Room with the majestic tapestry of Brussels, The exaltation pf the Arts, woven at the end of the reign of Felipe IV in the workshop of Jan Leyniers and belonging to the Santander Collection. Ayate Car develops that committed aspect of Ibero-American art, by sending the artist this car from the 1950s from Mexico City to Tijuana, causing the illegal entry of the vehicle into the United States and immediate deportation, leaving the car in "no man's land" of the border as a symbol against the mistreatment of illegal Mexican immigration.

Julio Le Parc, one of the classic voices of Ibero-American art, was inspired by sources outside the art system, using movement and artificial light as materials in his Lumières alternées, a rhythmic pulsation of lights and shadows with a view to transforming architecture in a moving force field. His photokinetic experiments allow him to analyze the visual process.

Leandro Erlich, one of the youngest Argentine authors in the show, investigates optical illusions from a new perspective, using them as an artistic medium. In his installation The Doors, the public is faced with a series of locked doors, through whose cracks and keyholes the light filters in abundance. One can only open them.

In Superficial Tension, the Mexican Rafael Lozano-Hemmer confronts the audience with a gigantic human eye that, through a monitoring system, records the movement that occurs around him, representing the intimate exchange between the work and the person who is contemplating it.

The engravings of the Argentinean Liliana Porter show that the interaction between the public, the work, and the artist constituted the fundamental element of an aesthetic that emerged in the 1960s, whose purpose was to develop new forms of art beyond institutions and categories. In the middle of that decade, Porter founded the New York Graphic Workshop, a collective initiative aimed at disseminating works of art in series. The most paradigmatic example of this concept was To Be Wrinkled and Thrown Away where the title itself is responsible for providing instructions for use.

Of the different artistic fields handled in the exhibition, another Argentine, Marta Minujín, presents several drawings of her most relevant public activities - known internationally for her performances and happenings - with which since the 1960s she has been radically questioning the relationship between art and public. Thus, in 1983, for example, he built a scale model of the Parthenon in Buenos Aires, his hometown, using books that had been censored during the Argentine dictatorship, whose drawing is exhibited in this exhibition.

León Ferrari, the oldest artist on the tour, is often inspired by political motives, and his projects reveal another aspect of rampant urbanization and the resulting chaos. The series exhibited includes traffic arteries, cars, and stereotypical figures such as visions or caricatures of reality and was created in the early 1980s in São Paulo.

Brazilian Cildo Meireles captures the symbiotic relationship of madness and reason in an enigmatic and global image mounted with rings and chains. Vik Muniz's WWW (World Map) —a world map made up entirely of out-of-date computer parts— wants to warn us in his work that the global network becomes the mere sum of its unconnected, useless components, ultimately seeking new definitions of the photographic media.

The Cuban artists that form Los Carpinteros cooperative, resort to crazy drawings and objects to sketch a private world as a paraphrase of the present, sprinkling it with humorous allusions and abounding in sarcastic comments about everyday life in Cuba, such as their Wooden and Metal Umbrella.
For its part, the also Cuban Belkis Ayón is inspired by the realization of her engravings as artistic meditations on the legends of the Abakuá, an Afro-Cuban secret society dedicated exclusively to men.

The radio transmission of the exhibition space itself of a fictitious horse race incites the Panamanian Humberto Vélez in La Carrera (classic VII Biennial of Panama) to criticism and parody of competitive social systems.

For his audio installation, titled Something Going On Above My Head, Colombian Oswaldo Macia Gómez composed a symphony based on the song of two thousand birds from four continents. He is interested in the development of a universal language as a challenge to perception.

The installation on the Hotbed floor, by the Uruguayan Marco Maggi, resembles instructions to perceive slowness and silence, a kind of Zen garden with minimal creations from microscopic precision incisions made on snowy paper. The work invites the viewer to discover a new sculptural universe.

Carlos Amorales has been working on his own language to express speech coding and intuitive perception, continually expanding the digital archive of images that have become his iconographic background. The Liquid Archive motifs — hybrid creatures, masks, airplanes, etc. — produce surreal and threatening parallel worlds.

In his O presságio Seguinte (experience on the visibility of a dynamic substance), José Damasceno addresses the changing dimensions of a world in constant motion. The installation gives priority to proximity and encounter using physical stimuli (space, shapes, materials) to lead its viewers to the nodal point of the interpretive threads.

Another Colombian, Oscar Muñoz, carries out an exhaustive analysis of the processes of perception and our ability to remember with Breath, where when we exhale our breath on glass the face of a disappeared person in Colombia emerges.

Likewise, in the work of José Alejandro Restrepo, the role of death as a counterpart of life and co-architect is also revealed. Jorge Macchi fights against oblivion by providing press articles on
murders in a fragile collage and emphasizing that news that readers often forget as soon as they turn the page. Placed horizontally, the articles finally enjoy space to narrate their tragedies.
Marginalization and hegemony, as well as the effects of war, are the main artistic concerns of Miguel Ángel Rojas and Doris Salcedo. Rojas presents in large format black and white photographs a mutilated soldier of the Colombian army, whose posture reminds us of the famous David by Miguel Ángel.
Doris Salcedo transforms political and social processes into disturbing sculptures - November 6 - that speak about desire and loss, of presence and absence, like this spectacular assembly of chairs and a room.


More than 1,300 pieces and 100 artists make up the Daros Latinamerica Collection, with a European headquarters in Zurich and an American branch in Rio de Janeiro. The collection was instituted in 2000 under the direction of Hans Michael Herzog and it includes the majority of contemporary artists from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego who have or will have an important impact on contemporary art from twenty years ago until now. Also, the collection presents emblematic pieces from the sixties and seventies and both Latin Americans residing in Europe and Europeans who have their definitive residence in Latin America. The oldest work in the Collection is a Torres García from 1938. Herzog affirms “the collection is as varied as the age of the artists, and what we want is to contribute to a better understanding of Ibero-American art outside its borders” since what fascinated him is that in these countries, "You think more intensely."
Ruth Schmidheiny is the owner of this Collection.

Participating artists: Carlos Amorales, Belkis Ayón, Los Carpinteros, José Damasceno, Gonzalo Díaz, Leandro Erlich, León Ferrari, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Jorge Machi, Oswaldo Macia, Marco Maggi, Cildo Meireles, Marta Minujín, Vik Muniz, Oscar Muñoz, Julio Le Parc, Liliana Porter, José Alejandro Restrepo, Miguel Angel Rojas, Betsabeé Romero, Doris Salcedo, Hunberto Vélez.

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