Offshoot Arts are presenting a solo exhibition with Colombian artist Santiago Montoya at CONTEXT Art Fair in Miami. Which opens on 30th November and runs until 5th December 2021.
Trust – a concept that underpins the very integrity and core values of a civilized society. A value that is mediated through symbolic systems including religious institutions, government, banks and of course, matters of the human heart. Santiago Montoya explores the complexities and challenges of this revered construct, most poignantly in his new work ‘TRUST’ that will be exhibited for the first time at Context Art Miami. Often featuring impactful and thought-provoking text in his work, the word ‘trust’ is carved from a copper plate, with 24 Karat gold leaf and iron rust fused onto the text. The notion of how trust can be eroded, its transience, alludes to the idea that trust is difficult to find, to build and cultivate, and perhaps to endure. This sense of erosion is boldly addressed, with the word ‘rust’ contained in the word trust – ‘one of the mysteries of life’ as the artist states.
In an age of uncertainty and dissimilitude, where financial organizations and governments around the world are relied on to create a better, fair and equal world, Santiago Montoya questions their motives and approaches. The ‘Wall of Lamentations’ series will be exhibited at Context, large panels featuring Montoya’s signature medium – global banknotes. These are meticulously aligned on stainless steel panels, a radiant display of the colours and illustrative details of paper currencies. Their methodical alignment suggests order, community and unification – however, the title of these works belie the colourful affirmations of this unusual medium. Beyond the aesthetic impact, Montoya implicitly investigates the fundamental fabric of our society, and its systems and hierarchies that are the framework for the world we inhabit.
In the epic ‘World Map (Vale un Peru)’ piece, the map of the world is created using dollar bills, gilded with silver leaf, seducing the viewer with its scale and luxurious materials. ‘Vale un Peru’ (worth a Peru) is a Spanish phrase symbolising great value. This work relates to the very origins of capitalism and the global economy thanks to the abundance of silver in the mine of Potosí, then part of the viceroyalty of Peru during Spain’s golden era. The phrase ‘Vale un Perú’, comes precisely from those days when silver began circulating from Peru onto east and west and the reales de 8 became the first worldwide accepted currency. The multi-faceted and multi-layered relationship that we have with global financial systems and money is played out in works such as ‘Golden Money Maker’ and the number series.
One of the pivotal works in the exhibition is the epic Jacquard tapestry ‘Goodtree’. Over 3 meters wide, this beautifully weaved wall-hanging features the monumental Sycamore tree. The image is taken from one of Eritrea’s banknotes in Africa. The image inspired Montoya of his childhood in Colombia, where giant Samán trees grow, providing much-needed shade. The enveloping arms of the tree provoke sentiments of growth, protection, safety and shelter; it is almost anthropomorphic in its maternal embrace. The tree is an enduring symbol of positivity, inclusivity and dependence; values that counter any duplicitous or untrustworthy ventures. Montoya shines a light on life’s misgivings, and yet offers a confident and trusted voice of solidarity.
“Montoya has become not only a true scholar of finances and of the history of commodities in Latin America, but an artist who addresses – by creating acute immersive environments – the uneven and uncertain landscapes that promises forge.”José Luis Falconi – Assistant Professor, Art and Art History & Human Rights Ins