The Valdivieso area, in San Martín de Porres, is marked by the imposing presence of La Milla hill. This place was inhabited, since the second half of the 20th century, by dozens of migrants from all over the country in search of housing to build a better future. The artists Miguel Lescano, a poet and teacher who came out of the classrooms of La Cantuta University, and Liliana Ávalos, a graduate of Fine Arts, opened here, at the beginning of 2000, a workshop dedicated to screen printing and design, a space that began to feed on the vitality of the neighborhood, of that unique popular aesthetic, in a time of survival, struggles and individual and collective undertakings.
“I have lived here all my life —says Miguel Lescano— and our visual discourse is a critical discourse. We believe that art should serve to transform things, to be happy… This utopia was founded at the beginning of 2000″.
The Cono Norte workshop soon became a meeting place for visual artists, poets, storytellers, musicians, and cultural managers from different districts of Lima and abroad. It was the epicenter of a serigraphic production that made printing and collage its raison d’être. An art loaded with resonances and meanings that can now be seen at the ICPNA Engraving Hall in La Molina until the end of April. Under the curatorship of Juan Peralta, more than 183 productions are exhibited, ranging from the mural to the artistic object, from the chicha poster to the pop aesthetic series; from photographic contrasts to the infinite possibilities of recycling. The exhibition is titled Parallel lives and it is, above all, a tour of the production of Ávalos and Lescano, but also of the works of the photographer and poet Elie Ángeles, another member of the workshop.
In the first passage, the soft sculptures and serigraphs of Liliana Ávalos are shown; a kind of homage and criticism of the domestic roles traditionally assigned to women. Made with fabric, seams, cloth and leather, these sculptures reproduce blenders, mixers, irons, but also scales and other objects that allude to popular women’s work. As the curator Juan Peralta says, in Ávalos’s work there is a transit between the home and the street, both “in terms of themes, languages and messages, with the rescue of characters like Casimiro (the title of one of these works), a street vendor”.
“The characteristic of Liliana’s work —explains Peralta— is that it is very explorative, she plays with the dematerialization of the image through collages… There is a use of added layers that add factors and aesthetics, something that also characterizes culture chicha… The interesting thing is how all this is synthesized”.
“My work has to do with what happens inside the house —says the artist—, from that point of view I have allowed myself to observe the outside world, the people who work around in the street, on a day-to-day basis. These layers of daily life are superimposed one after the other… And in all that gaze the national is channeled, from those hooks that my work has with the production of the traditional masters of Ayacucho, the Mantaro Valley, Cantagallo”.
The other parallel life addressed in the exhibition is that of Miguel Lescano. His work is a set of comings and goings based on his links with urban poetry, the subway movement, the avant-garde of the 20th century and the Peruvian artistic groups of the late 70s and 80s. On backgrounds of lines and shapes that create scenarios convoluted and chaotic, Lescano inserts a series of images —flags, maps, symbols— that allude to that homeland that is bleeding to death as a result of disagreements and tragedies, or to that country that remains in constant indetermination, an idea synthesized in one of his engravings with the haunting words “When, when, when.”
In a work like “Lima Love” all that feverish world fits with a city that Lescano identifies as Gothic and that allows him to connect with the figure of a marginal and conflicted superhero like Batman: “I am batman / the one who travels through the skies of Lima. / Valdivieso City Mestizo Schemer”, says one of his poems that announce a series of engravings that have the bat man as the protagonist. “We see a more schematic, diffuse Batman, just insinuated through the graphic line, but without losing the essence of Miguel, that is, the noise and constant agitation”, says Peralta. “There is an expressionist Miguel, Dadaist, but also pop, since he is part of a generation made up of television, cinema, video and comics.”, adds the curator. And here are his tributes to Warhol with chromatic posters dedicated to musical stars like Madonna, cultural icons like José María Arguedas, poets like César Vallejo or intellectuals like Gonzalo Portocarrero or Jorge Villacorta.
“I am 60 years old and all my life Lima has been chaos”, says Lescano, trying to explain his work.
“I have gone through the eighties and nineties, the crises, the violence and the 2000s have arrived and everything remains the same. When Borges talks about cyclical fields, it seems that he is referring to this madness, to this overflow, and for this reason my visual impression is of chaos.”.
Elie Ángeles arrived at the Cono Norte workshop in 2015, after meeting Miguel Lescano. “I was interested in working on collage from photography,” she says. And in this overlapping of images and games with light, he ends up leading us towards non-representation. “As a Lima native, I am interested in recognizing and ignoring the city,” he says. Recognizing it in the sense of remembering places, but ignoring it as a mechanism to access memory… We do not store images, but experiences, and then we recover them in a completely different way from how we live them, like a language that we reconstruct and put together”.
And that is what Ángeles does in her diffuse and chromatic artistic production, which is like a kind of hinge between the marginal everyday life of Ávalos and the visual avalanche of Lescano. Three ways of registering the same reality from the margins of a Lima in permanent transformation.
The Parallel Lives exhibition. Taller Cono Norte 2000-2013 can be seen until April 22 at the ICPNA Engraving Museum in La Molina (av. Javier Prado Este 4625), from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., prior registration at icpna
I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.