Before entering the building South Americanin the west of Medellín, you are already within the confines of a garden. The gigantic bamboo that flanks the view of the facade reaches the third floor of the building. Through this commercial and residential area, cars and passers-by pass through corridors of grass and plants; you can hear birds, fountains of water, the murmur of engines, the footsteps of pedestrians…
The vegetation sprouts, although not always the same, as a reminder of what was once just a field. Francisco Antonio Cano he painted it—the place where the main building of the insurance and pension company was located—in one of his oil paintings. that painting of 1892titled Landscape, shows cows, a farmer, a baby, trees and a green meadow that dominates the composition with the mountains. Everything that no longer exists or, outside of art, has been usurped in plain sight.
Cano’s painting is one of the more than thirty pieces in the exhibition Roota tribute to the link between art and nature organized by Sura and healed by Sun Astrid Giraldo. The exhibition, inaugurated on April 13, serves to reopen the organization’s art room with works by the artists in its collection and other invited contemporaries: Carlos Arango, Esteban Gutiérrez, Jorge Ortiz, Leifer Hoyos, Natalia Giraldo, Omar Ruiz and the company Sankofa Danzafro.
The exhibition is open from this April 13 until its closing in September in the Suramericana building (Cra 64 B # 49A 30), with free admission from Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. There will be a guided tour on Saturdays at 11:00 am or with previously scheduled groups of more than 12 people.
Undertaken since the 1970s, Sura’s art collection now has more than a thousand pieces by big names in national and Latin American art, some of them on display. In addition to Francisco Antonio Canofiguring Alejandro Obregon, Debora Arango, Jesus Abad Colorado y Ethel Gilmour.
The show focuses on cinco components: the history of the Otrabanda headquarters, the name by which the sector was formerly known; the sculptures that surround it (“Monument to Life”, by Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt, “Aerial Forest”, by Ricardo Cárdenas and others by Salvador Arango); the park as a public space in the city, and the aforementioned artistic collection.
The curator took into account a decisive notion in the conception of this space in the city: that of turning cities into gardens, almost like an extension of the gardens that occupy a large part of the patios and terraces of old houses.
“The idea was that the whole city would become a garden city, the whole city did not become, but this little piece was preserved. The exhibition is a tribute to that environmental process”, explains Sol Astrid Giraldo. The curator adds that until the end of the 19th century, Medellín grew only up to the river, and on the side of the city known as Otra Banda, Sura had great importance in urban and botanical development.
“When in 1963 the directors of the company bought several swampy lots on the Otrabanda side of the Medellín River to build the Suramericana Center, they made a risky bet. So was his urban project. The new headquarters did not rise like skyscrapers, but rather expanded into an unprecedented horizontal oasis. There, next to trees, flowers and foliage, buildings were raised like living plants”, writes the curator in a presentation text.
Astrid Giraldo highlights the “stones, fish, birds, reflecting pools, waterfalls, flowers, paths and sculptures” that offer “a fresh drop of silence, pause and beauty” in the Sura garden. These details also give more body to the subtitle of the exhibition, which expands its dialogue by taking the name of an important work of art: the garden of delights, of El Bosco. “Planting a garden that smiles inside the hectic urban machine will always be a utopia,” says the curator.
At the opening of the exhibition on art and nature, a drawing workshop was held at the premises of the Suramericana building with one of the artists invited to the exhibition, Omar Ruiz, author of a drawing proposal entitled Dibujo errante. In it, the artist becomes a kind of voyeur, spy and street observer by drawing other people without realizing it, whom he surprises in the end by giving them a drawing made up of quick, but delicate and expressive strokes.
Ruiz proposed a workshop with several exercises in which the main thing was not to “know” how to draw, but to surrender fearlessly to conventional conceptions of what a drawing should or should not be. In the building’s gardens, attendees did exercises to release their hands and following premises such as the creation of an abstract drawing related to a word or concept, a portrait made without looking at the paper and without lifting the pencil from the sheet, a hand made starting from outlining his own above and then observing it, and a final portrait that was later colored from a conversation with the other person portrayed.