I am Awake is the first London exhibition of the celebrated Paraguayan artist Feliciano Centurión who died aged 34 in 1996 from the complications of AIDS. Centurión was a central figure of the‘Arte Light’ movement of the late 80s, linked to the Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center in Buenos Aires. These artists were known for their flamboyant, irreverent works that embodied progressive attitudes to sexuality and lifestyle, emerging in tandem with the fall of right-wing dictatorships across Latin America.
I am Awake is comprised of a series of works from the artist’s estate, some of which are being shown publicly for the first time since his death. Taken mostly from the period of his life following his diagnosis with HIV in 1992, the exhibition consists of characteristic embroidered frazadas(blankets), along with plastic dinosaurs bedecked with crochet outfits, painted paper plates and the documentary film directed by Mon Ross, ‘Feliciano Centurión: Abrazo Íntimo al Natural’.
The artist’s work signals a moment in Latin American consciousness, where a new generation of late ‘80s artists – influenced by postmodernism – eschewed big-idea utopianism in favour of amore layered, subjective and wry perspective. These artists embraced the peripheral and traditional as well as the popular and mass-produced. From a small-town childhood absorbing thecultural melange of Guaraní Indians and Spanish Jesuits and raised by a mother and grandmother who taught him the traditionally female activity of lacemaking, embroidery and crochet, Centuriónbecame a shining light in this new cross-cultural consciousness.
Says Gallery Founder and Director, Cecilia Brunson: ‘Highly codified and drawing on the art formsof his native Paraguay, Feliciano Centurión’s work exudes spirit, bravery and light, and its aesthetic power is further enhanced when contextualised with the oppressive regimes he was compelled to live and work under and quietly against throughout his life. The gallery is delighted and honoured to present this landmark show, and in doing so to pay tribute to Centurión and satisfy the growing interest in his work both in Latin America — he was one of twelve individual artist shows highlight- ed in the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo in 2018 — as well as in Europe.’
Cecilia Brunson Projects, 2G Royal Oak Yard, Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3GD from 19 September – 27 October. Times: Tues – Fri, 10am – 6pm.