Francisca Sosa López: …y nada, agarré mis peroles y me fuí

21 January - 12 March 2022 The Box

Empty chairs – there are many, more will come. (Vincent Van Gogh) [1]

 

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery is delighted to present a new, specially commissioned work by young, London-based Venezuelan artist Francisca Sosa López in The Box, the gallery’s micro project space. The mixed-media installation, …y nada, agarré mis peroles y me fuí (...and nothing, I grabbed my things and left) traces the migration crisis of the artist’s homeland through the circuitry of spaces vacated by those who leave.

 

Adorning its internal walls, floor, and ceiling with layers of vibrant paint, Sosa López has transformed The Box into a room of sorts, at the centre of which sits a solitary chair. A recurring motif in Sosa López’s work, as in the history of art, the empty chair is replete with metaphorical and symbolic possibilities. In the domestic sphere, it can represent an absence: a friend or family member who can no longer be there to share meals, conversation, or in the practice of homemaking. In this way, the chair hardens into a mnemonic knot/totem around which coalesce memories of the person who used to sit there. Politically, the empty chair recalls a vacated throne: a power vacuum in the absence of a legitimate state. Both of these interpretations speak to what Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez called, in his 1982 Nobel Lecture of the same name, ‘The Solitude of Latin America’. Tracing the history of political upheaval and personal displacement in the continent, the author pointed out that the ‘country that could be formed of all the exiles and forced emigrants of Latin America would have a population larger than Norway’.[2] García Márquez could hardly have predicted that, by 2022, a country of such size could be formed from Venezuelan émigrés alone.

 

Nowhere is this reality played out more starkly than at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, where Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’s chromatic installation has become a backdrop for families saying their last desperate, resigned goodbyes as their loved ones leave the country. Sosa López’s coloured stripes across the floor of The Box are a nod to that work, a nostalgic echo of home that, like the ebullient Luis Silva song ringing out so quietly from within The Box, seems to darken in the lonely, evacuated confines of the space. As with the chair and with the walls of The Box, which consist of expressively painted strips of cardboard and magazines/newspaper sewn or stapled together, Sosa López favours the use of found materials and forgotten images in her painting practice. In addition to underpinning a sustainable artistic practice, this methodology acquires a symbolic dimension in the context of Venezuela: Sosa López sees the process as mapping out a framework for the reconstruction of her country, one in which the ruins, the debris, and the detritus can be refashioned into the building blocks of a new social reality.

Francisca Sosa López is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works in London. In 2015, she received a BA in Fine Arts and a BA in Art History from the University of Colorado, Boulder, USA. She later returned home to Caracas, before moving to London to pursue her MFA in painting at the Slade School of Fine Arts (2020). Her painting-centred practice seeks to explore materiality and process as a means of communication and is deeply influenced by her country and its ongoing crises. Looking to showcase and critique conceptions of home, Sosa López’s work employs colours and gestures inspired by the music and nature of Venezuela. In 2020, Sosa López was included in a two-person institutional exhibition at PEER UK. She is the recipient of the Provost Purchase Prize for UCL East 2020 and the Adrian Carruthers Award 2020/2021. She has also been nominated for the Almacantar Studio Award 2020 and selected as one of Saatchi Art’s Rising Stars 2020.



[1]                  A comment made to his brother Theo. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-van-goghs-chair

[2]                  Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Lecture: ‘The Solitude of Latin America’ (8 December 1982), Stockholm, Sweden.