Starting July 30, 2022 three powerful artworks by Colombian artist Nohemí Pérez will be on view as part of the new special exhibition Traces, presenting poetic reflections on memory in contemporary art by seven international artists.
Nohemí Pérez creates multidisciplinary work that reflects upon humanity’s relationship to the natural world and the tensions that arise from modern pressures upon the environment. Pérez focuses on her native Catatumbo region of Colombia, an area bordering Venezuela and marked by natural-resource extraction and drug trafficking. Large-scale charcoal drawings on canvas depict this dense environment; the artist embellishes the canvases with small, embroidered figures of animals and humans struck down by the violence occurring within the landscape. Charcoal is laden with meaning: It references the exploitation of natural resources that often triggers the loss and death in this place. The Museum has acquired three works from Pérez’s Palmar series, including a large charcoal drawing and two small paintings. “Palmar” can refer to the trees of the area, but also can be used colloquially to mean “snuff out” or “kill.”
The Portland Art Museum acquired the works in April at the 2022 EXPO Chicago international fair of contemporary art, from Instituto de Visión, a gallery with spaces in Bogotá and New York. The purchase was funded in part by the Northern Trust Purchase Prize, which was awarded this year to the Portland Art Museum and two other regional art institutions to support collection of work by emerging, diverse contemporary artists at EXPO Chicago. Generous additional funding for the purchase came from Sharon and Keith Barnes, Pat and Trudy Ritz, and Diane and Herb Rankin, who were among a group of Museum Patrons and supporters who accompanied curators to EXPO Chicago this year.
Sara Krajewski, the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, initiated the selection of this work, amplifying the artist’s concerns and connecting them to larger challenges faced globally: “The Portland Art Museum is incredibly proud to be awarded the Northern Trust Purchase Prize this year, which has allowed us to bring in an impactful work by Colombian artist Nohemí Pérez, the first in our collection. We immediately connected with the beautiful depiction of nature in the work, as well as the way Pérez addresses the environmental degradation and violence happening in her home country. We know that this work will speak to our audiences in Portland just as strongly as it does to Nohemí’s communities where she lives and works.”
The acquisition builds upon the Museum’s commitment to continue building the collection to include works by Latinx artists and women artists.
Visitors can now experience the work by Nohemí Pérez this summer as part of the exhibition Traces, running from July 30, 2022, through February 26, 2023, on the fourth floor of the Portland Art Museum’s Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art.