Recent immigrants from Latin America, Estefania Mondaca and Nanenko Olmos bring new interpretations and perspectives to Art Hole. Another View documents a year of practice since the pair’s arrival in Ōtautahi, delving into ideas of identity and location and staging compelling dialogues on concepts of ‘home’.
Chilean artist Estefania Mondaca sketches pools of thought with a series of painted studies. Pieces are dreamily inscribed with evocative titles such as The day I come back to my home, imagining pasts, environments and mythopoetic scenes at the meeting of Avonhead and Mondaca’s hometown Coquimbo. True to the nature of memory, departure points in this body of work morph and fade; information is alternately drawn out or obscured, captured in fine veils of charcoal and oil, or worn into soft-grained impressions on paper.
Against off-kilter horizons, landscapes are rendered in a luminous tonal quality. Action is suspended in a dance or dive; animals and human figures inhabit vignettes of their own remembering. This atmosphere is warm, domestic, yet touches upon a sense of disconnect or unreality. One can wrap themselves in the feeling of these pieces, mantled in the translated experience of Mondaca’s disquieting scenes. Her works are personal architectures, residences which consider the idea of ‘home’ as an elastic vessel, resonating with family histories and childhood memories, yet accommodating uncertainty and new directions.
Abstracts by Argentine Nanenko Olmos also explore concepts in layering and revisions. Richly pigmented impasto engages with materiality and surface, constructing unknown or ambiguous spaces in the interplay of reveal and obscure. Line and symbol are drawn through thick wet paint, placeholders for associative meaning carving a bodily topography of scores, cultural iconography and geometry.
Some gestures pierce or tear the surface. These organic incisions offer windows through the ground, recalling early spatial concepts of mid-century Latin abstractionist Lucio Fontana. Such allusions are however complicated by the attentive repair of each canvas wound. It is the implied action of this mark-making - by turns careful or carnal - which arrests the viewer. Framed narratives are guarded, yet the sculptural struggle implicit in these visceral surfaces hints at the artist’s relationship with place, perhaps positing ‘home’ as a raw emotive site, of change, of hurt and healing.
A conceptual collage of visual languages, Another View brings together multiplicities of diverse approaches to question shifting ideas of place and formal connection, conjuring an air of moody consternation and unsettling energy within the gallery.
Estefania Mondaca and Nanenko Olmos, Another View
Art Hole, 336 St Asaph Street
6 – 10 July
Estefania Mondaca, The day I came back to my home, 2021, oil and charcoal on paper