Gonzalo Bacigalupe

Abstract painting is a recent discovery, I began painting a year before I turned 60 years old. For decades, I have been taking photography as a way of connecting with the territories I live or travel to. Painting was often in my mind, but I did not start painting until 2017 when I broke my right shoulder and was disabled in my apartment throughout the fall. I couldn’t sleep so I began painting with materials purchased long before but never touched. The person who helped me with my first solo exhibit in Chile—I was on sabbatical there when the accident occurred—told me, you have a lot to tell despite not having had any formal art instruction besides some mentoring

Abstract painting has served as a way of engaging with body pain as well as the devastation and beauty of the territories I do fieldwork as a social scientist specialized in public health, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation. First it was my body in pain and during the pandemic, I have painted about the quarantine and the uncertainty of this slow disaster. I paint our connection to the territories we inhabit, including our bodies in pain, and the interconnections that inform the challenges and solutions to sustain healthy lives. As it is the case for many artists, each piece is a story, stories of the self and of the world collapsing around us. May be they are also the stores of another stage in my work as a psychotherapist and public health researcher and activist. 

Ocean Depth 1 and 2, a two-volume piece of abstract painting at the 2022 open show at BFAC, hopes to engage the audience in a reflection on how we hardly grasp our connection with the ocean and the wetlands that characterize coastlands. Coastlands that are always moving and changing but also deteriorating as the result of the climate crisis. These paintings are part of a series I call Uncertain Cartographies. The series intends to explore the ambiguity and uncertainty that our mapping of the territories imply. We think of maps as objective pieces that represent our surroundings. They are, however, limited rationale devices that tell us just a piece of the story. These paintings can also work as a sculpture, they can hang on a wall, but they could also be displayed on a table. Even though the paintings are on regular framed canvas, they are also pieces that transcend the 2D limitations.

Works