Magical chains of yellow drawings: Sandra Vásquez de la Horra

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Ever since Maastricht’s Bonnefantenmuseum led me to Peter Doig’s magical universe in 2003, I try to go to that charming museum whenever it presents an artist I’m not that familiar with. Last year I was entranced by the warmth and the beauty of Elizabeth Peyton’s paintings, and Sandra Vásquez de la Horra‘s exhibition (on view through October 24) proved to be worth the trip once again. The clusters of yellowish drawings by this Chilean artist have something really intriguing.

What is it with those clusters, anyway, these days? Ed Templeton recently covered the walls of SMAK (Ghent) with his clusters of photographs, and now this, those clusters of drawings by Düsseldorf-based Chilean artist Sandra Vásquez de la Horra. But it  works, those long chains or big circles, in those big white rooms of the Bonnefantenmuseum.

The first thing you notice is that yellowish, brownish coating those graphite drawings are all having. That’s because Sandra Vásquez de la Horra dips her paintings in wax, thus giving them some sort of translucent skin. You’ll see a lot of different sorts of paper too. It sometimes looks as if they have been torn from old notebooks.

Sandra Vásquez de la Horra was born in Viña del Mar, a Chilean seaside resort close to Valparaíso. She moved to Düsseldorf in 1995, where she attended classes by Jannis Kounellis at the Kunstakademie, and later on by Rosemarie Trockel. She completed her studies in 2003 in Cologne. She has always been drawing and has thus assembled a massive body of work over the years.

Her drawings are always in black, although she sometimes adds a little yellow, pink or red. Typography is also widely present in her work. She has read all there is to read (Whitman, Dante, Kerouac…) and often draws inspiration from myths and popular tales, and it takes only one second to see that religion, sex and politics are recurring themes. Her drawings are funny as well as surreal and morbid. She cites Francesco de Goya as a major influence and also Odilon Redon whom she discovered during her first stay in Europe at Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

You can spend quite some time, checking out those yellow sheets of paper, pinned to those white walls. You’ll discover something new each time you look at a wall you’ve already looked at. But in the end you do wonder where she will go from here. Because it seems as if by now Sandra Vásquez de la Horra has explored every corner of that room that is undoubtedly hers.

Sandra Vásquez de la Horra, through October 24, Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht. Info here. Do visit the artist’s website where you’ll discover plenty of drawings. You’ll find it here. The beautiful catalogue is published by Hatje Cantz. You can order it here.

(exhibition views: Harry Heuts; courtesy Bonnefantenmuseum)

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