Camilo Restrepo

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Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles
Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles
Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles
Camilo Restrepo. <em>Mera Calentura 2</em>, 2017. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper, 58 x 248 inches (147.3 x 629.9 cm)
Camilo Restrepo. <em>Mera Calentura</em>. Installation view, Steve Turner, 2017
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
camilo restrepo, steve turner, steve turner la, steve turner los angeles, steve turner contemporary, colombia, colombian artist, medellin, art brussels, 2016, calarts, los angeles, belgium, abstract, figurative, work on paper
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Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles
Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles
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Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Contemporary art, space program
Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Contemporary art, space program

Camilo Restrepo. A Land Reform 17, 2019. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 46 3/4 x 115 3/4 inches (118.7 x 294 cm)

Camilo Restrepo. A Land Reform 17, 2019. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 46 3/4 x 115 3/4 inches (118.7 x 294 cm) (Detail)

Camilo Restrepo. A Land Reform 17, 2019. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 46 3/4 x 115 3/4 inches (118.7 x 294 cm) (Detail)

Camilo Restrepo. El Bloc Del Narco, Installation view, Steve Turner, 2019

Camilo Restrepo. El Bloc Del Narco #14, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, glue, newspaper clippings, staples, plastic bag, paper dust and saliva on paper. 58 x 66 (147.3 x 147.6 cm)

Camilo Restrepo. El Bloc Del Narco #16, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, glue, newspaper clippings, staples, plastic bag, paper dust and saliva on paper. 16 1/2 x 24 (41.9 x 61 cm)

Camilo Restrepo. El Bloc Del Narco, Installation view, Steve Turner, 2019

Tight Rope, Installation view, Steve Turner, September 2015

Tight Rope, Installation view, Steve Turner, September 2015

Tight Rope, Installation view, Steve Turner, September 2015

Camilo Restrepo. Mera Calentura 2, 2017. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper, 58 x 248 inches (147.3 x 629.9 cm)

Camilo Restrepo. Mera Calentura. Installation view, Steve Turner, 2017

Bowling for Medellín 3, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper. 58 1/2 x 106 1/2 inches

Bowling for Medellín 3, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper. 58 1/2 x 106 1/2 inches (detail)

A Land Reform 10, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches

A Land Reform 10, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches (detail)

A Land Reform 10, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches (detail)

A Land Reform 9, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches

A Land Reform 9, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches (detail)

A Land Reform 9, 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 70 x 74 1/2 inches (detail)

Tight Rope #10 (Diablo Rojo), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches

Tight Rope #10 (Diablo Rojo), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches (detail)

Tight Rope #11 (Gallina), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches

Tight Rope #11 (Gallina), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches (detail)

Tight Rope #12 (Mogwai), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches

Tight Rope #12 (Mogwai), 2016. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 48 inches (detail)

Tight Rope #1, 2015. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 64 x 48 inches

Tight Rope #6 (El Burro), 2015. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 63 x 47 inches (160 x 119.4 cm)

Tight Rope #5 (Black Shadow), 2015. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper. 64 x 48 inches (162.6 x 122 cm)

Bowling for Medellín 1, 2014. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper. 72 x 240 inches

Bowling for Medellín 1, 2014. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 72 x 240 inches (detail)

Bowling for Medellín 1, 2014. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, stickers, newspaper clippings, glue and saliva on paper. 72 x 240 inches (detail)

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Camilo Restrepo. <em>Mera Calentura 2</em>, 2017. Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape, newspaper clippings, glue, stickers and saliva on paper, 58 x 248 inches (147.3 x 629.9 cm) thumbnail
Camilo Restrepo. <em>Mera Calentura</em>. Installation view, Steve Turner, 2017 thumbnail
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Camilo Restrepo creates works that represent the drug violence that for decades has besieged his native Colombia. Using techniques more often associated with sculpture, he creates large-scale drawings that highlight the materiality of paper by scratching, scraping and cutting into it. He erases with a precision knife leaving scars and wounds that remain visible. His works are dense with cartoon imagery with every situation illustrating some aspect of Colombia’s narco world and the consequences to his mental and emotional faculties. While Restrepo certainly is an art world insider (he earned two degrees in Colombia as well as an MFA at CalArts), because of the obsessive nature of his work, he can easily be mistaken for an outsider artist.


Born 1973, Medellín, Colombia
Lives and works in Medellín

Education
2013
MFA, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

2008
MA in Aesthetics, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellín

Solo and Two-Person Exhibitions
2020
Alias II, Casa Hay Festival, Cartagena

2019
Alias, Sala de Arte Suramericana, Medellín
El Bloc del Narco, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2017
Mera Calentura, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
Artissima (with Steve Turner), Torino, Italy

2016
ARTBO (with Steve Turner), Bogotá
Lux Art Institute, Encinitas
Art Brussels (with Steve Turner)

2015
Tight Rope, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
ARCO Madrid (with Steve Turner)

2014
El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2013
This is a Wound, Not Just The Drawing of a Hole, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
Untitled, Miami Beach (with Steve Turner)

2011
Figuritas en el Suelo, Premio Luis Caballero, Galería Santa Fe, Bogotá

2010
Trabajo Reciente, Galería de La Oficina, Medellín
Figuritas en el Suelo, Casa Tres Patios, Medellín

2009
Esto es una Pipa, LA Galería, Bogotá

Group Exhibitions
2020
Earth Day 2020, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2019
El Revés de la Trama, 45 Salón Nacional de Artistas, Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá
Una línea de polvo, Museo de Arte Pereira
En Fuga: Re-Vistas, Videos y Narco Archivos, Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño, Bogotá

2018
Untitled, Miami Beach (with Steve Turner)
Comfortably Numb: A Critical Investigation into the Cultural Impact of Drugs and Narcotics, Another Space, New York
Inside Out, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
Through-Line: Drawing and Weaving by 19 Artists, Steve Turner, Los Angeles
BioPix, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2017
Untitled, Miami Beach, (with Steve Turner)
Medellín, une histoire colombienne, Musée des Abattoirs, Toulouse

2016
Code Art Fair (with Steve Turner), Copenhagen
Seattle Art Fair (with Steve Turner)
La Savia Espesa, Casa del Lago, Mexico City

2015
Historias Locales / Prácticas Globales, MDE15, Museo de Antioquia, Medellín
A Sense of Place, Selections from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Mana Wynwood Convention Center, Miami
EXPO Chicago (with Steve Turner)
Space Program, Steve Turner, Los Angeles

2014
Una línea de polvo, FLACSO, Quito, Ecuador
ARTBO (with Steve Turner), Bogotá
Pinta London (with Steve Turner)
Zona Maco (with Steve Turner), Mexico City

2013
Untitled, Miami Beach (with Steve Turner)
Subrepticio, Historias Encubiertas, Galería Banasta, Medellín
Gloria/Dinero, Galería de la Oficina, Medellín
Uma Linha de Pó, Barracao Maravilha Arte Contemporanea, Rio de Janeiro
La Gente en la Colección del Museo, Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Medellín

2012
Poetas en Tiempos de Escasez. El parqueadero – Banco de la República, Bogotá

2011
Más Allá de la Crisis, 6a Ventosul, Bienal de Curitiva, Museo Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil
Salón BBVA – Nuevos Nombres Banco de la República, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá

2010
42 Salón Nacional de Artistas, Museo Antropológico Universidad del Atlántico, Barranquilla
Premio Bienal de Artes Plásticas y Visuales Bogotá 2010, Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño, Bogotá
No Soul for Sale – Casa Tres Patios, Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London

2009
13 Salón Regional de Artistas, Estación de Ferrocarril, Armenia
Casa de Citas, Museo de Antioquia, Medellín

2008
41 Salón Nacional de Artistas, Museo de Arte Religioso, Cali

Awards and Grants

2013 Fulbright Grant, United States
2012 XXII Salón Colombiano de Fotografía, Sala de Arte Suramericana de Seguros, Medellín

Bibliography
2020
“‘Alias’, historia de muerte y balas perdidas,” Arteria, February

2019
Castañeda, Ronal. “Artes de las calles y las noticias en exposición,” EL COLOMBIANO, October 23
Domínguez, Laura Camila Arévalo. “Sobre la costumbre de encontrarse muertos en Medellín,” EL ESPECTADOR, October 20
Fajardo, Santiago Rueda. “Plata y Plomo. Una Historia de Arte y Drogas (i)licitas en Colombia,” Editorial Crítica

2018
Fajardo, Santiago Rueda. “Post Scriptum: Una Línea de Polvo. Arte y Drogas en América Latina,”
{con}Tensión Editorial, May 11

2017
Eytan, Declan. “The Next Big Thing in Miami’s Contemporary Art Scene? Look No Further Than Turin,” Forbes, December 6
Lesser, Casey. “Why You’re Seeing So Many More Works on Paper at Art Fairs,” Artsy, November 1
Hanson, Sarah P. “New commissions by nine artists for DiCaprio Foundation sale,” The Art Newspaper, July 20

2016
Popescu, Roxana. “Camilo Restrepo: dismantling absurdity through his art,” The San Diego Union- Tribune, September 25
Belli, Mathias. “Volden på CODE Art Fair,” magasinet kunst, August 11
Amirsadeghi, Hossein. Petitgas, Catherine. Contemporary Art Colombia. TransGlobe Publishing, p. 242-245

2015
Maloney, Darby. “The L.A. Art Scene: Mega-galleries and Narco Art,” The Frame, KPCC, September 25
Miranda, Carolina A. “Art born of the drug wars: Camilo Restrepo on ‘narco bananas’ and pen-on-paper violence,” Los Angeles Times, September 23

2014
Frank, Priscilla. “Surreal Paintings Reveal The Violent Absurdities Of The Colombia Drug Trade,” HuffPost, May 28
Black, Ezrha Jean. “Pacific Standard Surreal – A wish list,” Artillery, May 8

2013
Cembalest, Robin. “Artwork on Violence in Colombia Too Dangerous for Art Fair in Miami,” ARTnews, December 4
Samuels, A.J. “When Art Gets Violent,” Artfetch, September

Earth Day 2020

Hannah Epstein, Kate Klingbeil and Camilo Restrepo

April 22–May 15, 2020

Camilo Restrepo

El Bloc Del Narco

February 23 – March 23, 2019

Inside Out

Samantha Bittman, Mariel Capanna, Nick Doyle, Hannah Epstein, Lucy Fradkin, Dahn Gim, Ben Jackel, G.T. Pellizzi and Camilo Restrepo

September 8 – October 20, 2018

BioPix

Laylah Ali, Nicanor Aráoz, Diedrick Brackens, Marcin Dudek, Hannah Epstein, Cristián Fernández Ocampo, Ann Hirsch, Erdal Inci, Jacqueline Laurita Cortese, Thomas Lawson, Carlos Martiel, Jerry B. Martin, Claire Milbrath, Pablo Rasgado, Camilo Restrepo, Julian Rogers and Yung Jake

February 17 – March 24, 2018

Camilo Restrepo

Mera Calentura

November 11 – December 16, 2017

Camilo Restrepo

Tight Rope

September 12 – October 8, 2015

Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles

Camilo Restrepo

El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos

May 3 – May  31, 2014

Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellin

Camilo Restrepo

THIS IS A WOUND, NOT JUST THE DRAWING OF A HOLE

August 17 – September 21, 2013

Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, This is a Wound, Not Just the Drawing of a Hole, Colombia contemporary art, Medellin, Los Angeles, Camilo Restrepo artist

Camilo Restrepo

Arte al Día

DESTRUCTION AS A TOOL – COLOMBIAN ARTIST CAMILO RESTREPO IN STEVE TURNER LOS ANGELES
An insight into Restrepo’s work and South American roots.

Camilo Restrepo

Periodico Arteria

November, 2019
“Alias’, historia de muerte y balas perdidas”

Camilo Restrepo

Alias

Camilo Restrepo book release

Camilo Restrepo

In the South American Art Hall

October 20, 2019
Laura Camila Arévalo Domínguez
“On the custom of being dead in Medellín”

Camilo Restrepo

Forbes

December 6, 2017
Declan Eytan
“The Next Big Thing in Miami’s Contemporary Art Scene? Look No Further Than Turin”

Camilo Restrepo

Artsy

November 1, 2017
Casey Lesser
“Why You’re Seeing So Many More Works on Paper at Art Fairs”

Camilo Restrepo

The Art Newspaper

“New commissions by nine artists for DiCaprio Foundation sale”

Camilo Restrepo

Blouin Art Info

October, 2016
Scott Indrisek
“What To See, And Buy, At ArtBo”

Camilo Restrepo

Los Angeles Times

September 23, 2015
Carolina A. Miranda
“Art born of the drug wars: Camilo Restrepo on ‘narco bananas’ and pen-on-paper violence”

Camilo Restrepo

Television Española, Arco Madrid

February, 2015
Television Española
Camilo Restrepo interviewed on national television in Spain during ARCO Madrid

Camilo Restrepo

Huffington Post

May 28, 2014
Priscilla Frank
“Surreal Paintings Reveal The Violent Absurdities Of The Colombia Drug Trade”

Camilo Restrepo

Artillery

May 8, 2014
Ezrha Jean Black
“Pacific Standard Surreal – A wish list”

UNTITLED

Laylah Ali, Samantha Bittman, Mariel Capanna, Nick Doyle, Hannah Epstein, Lucy Fradkin, Kevin McNamee-Tweed, Paige Jiyoung Moon and Camilo Restrepo

December 5 – 9, 2018

UNTITLED

UNTITLED, Miami Beach

December 6-10, 2017

Artissima

Camilo Restrepo

November 3 – 5, 2017

ArtBO, Bogotá

Camilo Restrepo

October 26 – 30, 2016
Booth C28

Art Bo, Feria Art Bo, Bogota art, Art Bogota, Art fair, El espectador, calendar, narco, narco art, Camilo Restrepo, Steve Turner, Los Angeles, Medellín, Colombia, Colombian artist, Tight Rope, pastel on paper, contemporary colombian artist, contemporary art Colombia, contemporary art gallery los angeles

CODE Art Fair, Copenhagen

Jonas Lund, Camilo Restrepo, Rafaël Rozendaal, Michael Staniak & Yung Jake

August 26 – 28, 2016

Code Art Fair, Code, Copenhagen, Copenhagen Art Fair, Steve Turner, Steve Turner Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Michael Staniak, Rafaël Rozendaal, Yung Jake, Camilo Restrepo, Jonas Lund, Net art, Post-Internet art, contemporary art,

Seattle Art Fair

Pablo Rasgado, Camilo Restrepo, Rafaël Rozendaal, Michael Staniak, Yung Jake

August 4 – 7, 2016

Seattle Art Fair, Seattle Art, Seattle, Steve Turner, Steve Turner Contemporary, Steve Turner Los Angeles, Los Angeles Art, Los Angeles, Camilo Restrepo, Yung Jake, Michael Staniak, Pablo Rasgado, Rafael Rozendaal, Rafaël Rozendaal, Medellín art, Melbourne art, Mexico City art, Amsterdam art, Soylent, Abstract Browsing, Unfolded Architecture, Post-Internet, Net art

Art Brussels

Camilo Restrepo & Yung Jake

April 22 – 24, 2016
Booth C21

EXPO CHICAGO

Pablo Rasgado | Camilo Restrepo | Michael Staniak

September 17–20, 2015

ARTBO

Restrepo / Lund / Rasgado / Rozendaal / Staniak

October 24 – 27, 2014

artbo, steve turner, bogota, los angeles, camilo restrepo, colombian artist, michael staniak, rafaël rozendaal, jonas lund, pablo rasgado, mexico, latin american art, contemporary art

Pinta London

Martiel / Rasgado / Restrepo

June 12 – 15, 2014

Camilo Restrepo, Pablo Rasgado, Carlos Martiel, Steve Turner, Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles, Pinta London, Pinta, London, Latin American Art, contemporary art

Zona Maco, Mexico City

Anwander / Cortright / Rasgado / Restrepo / Staniak / Torres-Alzaga / Orlaineta

February 5 – 9, 2014

Zona Maco, Mexico City, Steve Turner Contemporary

UNTITLED, MIAMI BEACH

Cortright / Rasgado / Restrepo / Staniak

December 2 – 8, 2013


CAMILO RESTREPO (born 1973, Medellín, Colombia), earned a masters degree in aesthetics from the National University of Colombia (2008) before going to CalArts, Los Angeles to earn an MFA (2013). He has had solo or two-person exhibitions at Sala de Arte Suramericana, Medellín (2019), Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019), and the Lux Art Institute, San Diego (2016). Group exhibitions include Centro Colombo Americano, Bogotá (2019), Museo de Arte de Pereira, Pereira (2019), Fundación Gilberto Alzate Avendaño, Bogotá (2019), Another Space, New York (2018), and Steve Turner, Los Angeles (2018). Restrepo was a recipient of the Fulbright Grant and was nominated for the Premio Luis Caballero, the most important prize in Colombia for artists over 35.



Tight Rope #10 (Diablo Rojo) is one of thirteen drawings in Restrepo’s series called Tight Rope. The first nine are from 2015 and were presented in his solo exhibition of the same name at Steve Turner Los Angeles. The last four were created in 2016 for his solo exhibition at Art Brussels.

Each drawing features a boxer whose gloves reveal a lobotomized brain and a single long rope that entangles every figure throughout the drawing. This rope also wraps around pulleys that are being operated by cartoon characters that are involved in fights and other violent situations. There also are large swaths of nonsensical handwritten text. According to Restrepo, the series highlights the uncontrollable, repetitive psychic battles that occur inside the heads of obsessive people as well as the destructive, real-world combat created by the drug wars in Colombia.


Tight Rope #10 (El Diablo) Detail

Camilo Restrepo

Tight Rope #10 (Diablo Rojo), 2016

Ink, water-soluble wax pastel, tape and saliva on paper

63 x 48 inches  (160 x 121.9 cm)

$18,500


Restrepo’s process includes three important stages. In the first, he makes a line drawing in ink that he then fills in with color by drawing with water-soluble pastels and by collaging newspaper clippings. Once done, he extensively damages the work. The method of destruction varies from series to series. In some, he sprays water at high pressure onto the drawing until it breaks apart and its colors run. In others, he sprays water onto the drawing and then walks on in the street so that it absorbs the texture of the pavement. In so doing the work gets degraded and takes on the marks of the street.



In the Tight Rope series, he destroyed the work by balling up the sheets very tightly, over and over and over again. This destroyed the structural integrity of the paper making it feel like a cotton bed sheet more than a piece of archival paper. Whatever the method of destruction, he significantly damages the works. The final stage is restoration of the damaged work. He mends tears and losses with hundreds, sometimes thousands of pieces of archival tape and paper patches and then reworks the damaged areas. The resulting work bears the scars of his process and the scars of his life in Medellín during the darkest days of the Pablo Escobar era.


Camilo Restrepo in conversation with Steve Turner


Steve Turner:
You were born in Medellín and have lived there most of your life. Since most people associate Colombia and especially Medellín with drug cartels and Pablo Escobar, can you describe some memorable episodes that influenced your artistic practice.

Camilo Restrepo:
The narco-violence of the ‘80s and ‘90s had a big emotional impact on me and it is very present in my work. I encountered lots of corpses during those years, the first instance was on Halloween when I was six years old. I was in a car with other kids in costume on the way to school. There was a dead man lying on the street and the driver made us get out of the car to look at him. All of us kids were wearing costume. It was a bizarre scene–there was a dead man surrounded by superheroes that could not resuscitate him. I definitely think of this scene as I create my drawings. I saw people being killed in front of me on four separate occasions. I was twelve years old the first time; the last time I saw was a man killed by a sicario (hitman) while he was playing billiards at the table next to mine. The windows of our house were blown out on three separate occasions when bombs were exploded in terrorist actions targeted at Pablo Escobar. For six months a sicario wanted to kill me because of a problem we had in a bar. He chased me a couple of times, but luckily someone killed him first. My best friend was kidnapped by the FARC guerrilla group when we were driving together to the coast for holidays. That easily could have been me. It was hard to go out knowing that you might not make it back home. Yes, the Medellín of my youth is very much in my work.


Detail from Bowling for Medellín 3, 2016

“I saw people being killed in front of me on four separate occasions. I was twelve years old the first time; the last time I saw was a man killed by a sicario (hitman) while he was playing billiards at the table next to mine. “


ST:
Why did you decide at age 38 to leave the comforts of Medellín to go to CalArts?

CR:
Because I wanted to join an artistic community where I could discuss and reconsider my ideas about art with critical peers and faculty. In Colombia, my art practice had been a lonely one as I didn’t study fine arts and had mostly worked as a self-taught artist.

ST:
Did you find such an artistic community there?

CR:
Yes, I did. Most of us lived in the studios or at least spent lots of time there. It was the ideal situation. I was surrounded by people eager to talk about art. The fact that CalArts is one hour away from Los Angeles also caused us to spend more time on campus.

ST:
What did you previously study in Colombia? How did you end up making such strong conceptual work without a formal art education?

CR:
I studied mechanical engineering and then earned a masters degree in aesthetics before going to CalArts. My first works were photographs. After a while, I realized that photography was not a merely a matter of composition and color and that it had a history which was connected to conceptual art. I started to read a lot and then began my formal study of aesthetics. The curriculum was oriented more toward critical so my practice at the time had a strong theoretical influence. However, when it came to making art, I had very little critique of producing images and objects, I invented my self the ways to do so.

ST:
At CalArts you radically departed from your past works which were pristine photographs by starting to make the very messy drawings for which you are now well known.

Did you have any experience in drawing?

CR:
I did not. At CalArts I went through a radical two year experience that totally changed my life and my art practice. Drawing without knowing how to draw was a manifestation of my new desire to live an imperfect life. In the past, I was driven to achieve perfection. At CalArts, I learned to embrace uncertainty, to accept mistakes and to deal with the unknown.

ST:
And so you have, with very good results.


“At CalArts I went through a radical two year experience that totally changed my life and my art practice. Drawing without knowing how to draw was a manifestation of my new desire to live an imperfect life…I learned to embrace uncertainty, to accept mistakes and to deal with the unknown.”

“They relate to obsessive thinking and feelings of inadequacy. Each drawing has a central character who wears boxing gloves that have been trepanned revealing a brown brain. The more he fights obsession, the more brain damage he will suffer.”


ST:
Over the nearly ten years during which you have been making drawings, you have created a number of different series: Bodies of EvidenceA Land ReformLos CaprichosRip CurrentsBowling for MedelínTight RopeEl Bloc Del Narco, etc. While each series has its own idiosyncrasies, what unites these different bodies of work?

CR:
First, the materiality and the process of making the drawings. I draw with a pen, for example. It means that if I want to erase something, I must use a scalpel to do so, a process that leaves the paper scarred. I also work in a way that produces an overall dirty quality.  As I draw with water-soluble wax pastels on small sheets of paper that are taped together, I am constantly folding and unfolding the paper to work on a single sheet. In so doing, when I am working on one sheet, every sheet below it is being affected. New marks appear without any specific intention. As I partially destroy and reconstruct the finished drawings, they also carry the many marks of that process, all of which makes the paper an important element beyond that of a neat and invisible surface.

Second is my use of cartoon-like imagery in all the series. As I have no academic drawing skills, I rely on the Internet for source images, and the images that are must useful to me are cartoon images. I find it easier draw a cartoon character than a photograph of a person. I also think that viewers relate to them more easily and that enables me to address more serious subjects in a light-hearted way.

Third, all the series relate to my life experience and thus convey the suffering in my own head as well as the larger societal suffering caused by the war on drugs. They all criticize two utopias of perfection: the utopia of the perfect individual and the utopia of a world free of drugs.

ST:
Can you briefly describe your motivations in the Tight Rope series?

CR:
They relate to obsessive thinking and feelings of inadequacy. Each drawing has a central character who wears boxing gloves that have been trepanned revealing a brown brain. The more he fights obsession, the more brain damage he will suffer. The series title relates to the rope that runs through the entire drawing. It has no beginning and no end and it entangles every image surrounding the main character. It goes through a system of pulleys that also are everywhere in the drawing. This all is meant to represent an insane mechanism – the brain, with numerous fights between cartoon characters, with the brain depicted as a digestive system full of shit.

When I finished the drawing, I separated all the component sheets them so that I could tightly crumple and un-crumple each several times. This caused the paper appears to be tired and listless. I then taped them all together again as a final step. This process also represents the repetitive and obsessive fights that can occur inside one’s head.



ST:
From our many conversations, I know that every minute detail in your works is there for a reason. Can you elaborate on some specific passages in Tight Rope #10 (Diablo Rojo)?

CR:
The central character is a red bull that appears to be strong and defiant. This represents the armor that we build to prevent people from seeing that we are struggling inside and are some times devastated. By the way, Diablo Rojo (red devil) is a very popular product in Colombia which is used to clear obstructions in the sewer lines.



CR:
This specific detail shows a never-ending tug of war game between two people, who are at the same time being hit in the face by a robot. Both ends of the rope leak a brown liquid. This relates to the automatic modes that govern our minds, something akin to never-
ending rumination. The unreadable automatic handwriting is meant to reinforce the idea of useless rumination. Finally there is Homer Simpson meditating below the guys that are fighting. I have been meditating for several years and that is a practice that has helped me to lessen suffering by allowing me not to identify with my thoughts.

ST:
What about this one?

CR:
In this image there is a word in spanish: ANOMALIA. An anomaly is a deviation from the general rule or a fault, a defect. This is how consider myself for my entire life before the process I went through at CalArts. There is also a big monkey which relates to the monkey mind, which is a Buddhist term that means a mind that is restless and unsettled. Even though we all experience these mental states, the monkey becomes a gorilla in a person diagnosed with general anxiety disorder.

ST:
And this one?

CR:
At the far left, there is a guy trying to climb the back of a monster. That might seem like a good way to defeat the monster, but look below. He is carrying a weight that makes his mission impossible. My working process embraces incongruity. Here you can see a fishing boat stuck in a brown puddle, a fisherman being eaten by the fish he was trying to catch, a fish hook in the mouth of a bear who is wearing boxing gloves and is punching the fisherman through the fish that is eating his head. There also is another man in the boat who is shouting instructions with a megaphone to no avail. Everything is a mess. Black monsters and green fish were common in my childhood dreams. Note also the hole in the paper caused by the crumpling and un-crumpling of the individual sheets.


 

Please direct inquiries to:
steve@steveturner.la
jonathan@steveturner.la