Andrés Ovalle
"The Unknown Land"

Boy with Dog, Mixed Media on Wood

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For many years I have been immersed in the task of revealing the identity, self-image and worldview of Chile and Latin America. I have submerged myself in this phenomenon by studying the graphic testimonies left by pre-Colombian cultures: petroglyphs, ceramic iconography, textiles and rock art. My study of the intuitive knowledge or mythical thinking left by primitive artists has revealed a legacy of incalculable value in recovering the Identity and the Memory of our nation and continent.

By studying ancient graphic forms, it is possible to access the vocabulary and alphabet graven in the most profound way on the American identity. This graphic testimony has close links with the images created by children and with the conception of structure practiced by the surrealists.

All of these forms of expression attempt to explain reality and its phenomena and result in a basic perception that is closer to the primary and intuitive nature of the human being. Memory, or the first source of information stored in the subconscious, is transformed into a universal code that is passed on from generation to generation, since the origins of humanity, and is revealed through this intuitive expression.

I saw an example of this universal code while studying petroglyphs drawn 400-500 years ago by an indigenous group in the Petorca province. One etching in particular caught my eye because I had seen a similar symbol before, only it had been drawn by a 6-year-old boy. Intrigued by this coincidence, I asked several archeologists and psychologists how it was possible for two people from such distant times to draw the same symbol. No one was able to give me a satisfactory answer, until I was introduced to the concept of “genetic memory” by Otto Klein, an anthropologist and investigator of megalithic cultures. According to Klein, “genetic memory” explains the similarities found in the languages of distinct cultures and civilizations.

But other coincidences would have impelled me to study these phenomena. On various occasions I have modeled forms and symbols that I later found to be similar to figures from ancestral cultures such as the Aztecs, Egyptians, Moche, Greeks and Incas without having seen these forms previously.

What is the origin of these images that are projected from the subconscious? For me, the answer lies in the concept of “genetic memory.”

The relationship between the primitive artist, the surreal artist and the language of children is a portal for my creative work. I begin the creation of my images through automatic writing, through the expression of the irrational and subconscious, in the manner of the Surrealists, spontaneously, like an explosive vomit of great force and expressiveness. Later I order them into distinct sessions of work, incorporating chromatic elements, purifying and integrating symbols until a series of 20 to 40 paintings is created. These I present as evidence of the creative process and the stages my work passes through, from the first stroke to the esthetically finished work.

Among the goals of art are the revelation of beauty, the illumination of society’s path and the detection of the empty places in a culture in order to satisfy its most sublime necessities, such as its need for Identity and Transcendence. I believe that one of the ways to convey the knowledge of a people is through the discovery of its Memory. Only with memory is it possible to accept the intuitive capacities of the human being, to accept our past and our visions of the future, allowing us to leave a testimony of incalculable value in the understanding of the self-image, the world image and the interests of a humanity permanently engaged in a process of change and development.

The Chilean visual artist Andrés Ovalle was born Dec. 11, 1970. He graduated from the Design School at the Universidad de Viña del Mar, Chile.

Other exhibitions

Andrés Ovalle, "The Unknown Land"

Xavier Castellanos, "Paintings - Magical Mexico"

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