A new experience
It was a pleasant surprise to stroll Santiago’s streets after an absence of ten years. People, architecture, gardens and urban art… only by visiting this city can you realize what makes its writers, painters and sculptors tick.
Because of this trip, and thanks to an exchange of ideas with Chilean poet Gustavo Adolfo Becerra, I quote one of his poems in which he speaks eloquently about his country. He writes:
“Chile has been considered a country of poets, as is Nicaragua. Temuco is the city of poetry. Maybe for a reason. Some think this reason is vernacular, because of its relationship with the Mapuche language in which one word can mean “I am sad because of the death of a friend”. For others, the death of forests (which are gone) and the mountains and rivers. Geography as a determining factor in behavior...”
With this in mind, I was finally able to understand what I experienced when driving through the Andes. Backs of huge sleeping beasts that sweat their dreams forming rivers of colors that feed the plants and other small animals, creating confusion for wellorganized minds that inevitably search for harmony without knowing that is it there, representing the origin of the same entropy.
We, who are so insignificant besides these dimensions, have not been able to stop being witnesses to so much beauty that will forever enrich us. This geography has also been an essential source of inspiration for renowned writers like Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, of painters like Mata and sculptors like Marta Colvin, Sergio Mayol and Félix Maruenda.
As I mention previously, in December 2004 I revisited Chile, ten years after showing my sculptures in the Centro de Extensión Universitaria of Chile’s Universidad Pontificia Católica. Changes are apparent and it is now a country that definitely is striding towards modernity without losing its essence.
On this occasion I had the opportunity to visit its vineyards, then what is known as the precordillera and, from there, begin the adventure of crossing the Andes to spend a few days in Mendoza, Argentina. Leaving the mountains and finding the desert, which has been turned into a garden thanks to the hand of man, was a unique experience that allowed me to enjoy the cuisine and wines as well as a city as beautiful as Mendoza.
A unique experience, thanks to the sights in this part of the planet. It also gives an understanding as to why water has been a fundamental element of inspiration in all artistic disciplines.
A few days after I returned to Chile I visited part of the coast, passing through the cities of Cartagena and Isla Negra, where Pablo Neruda’s country home is located.
Walking in what was once the home of one of the world’s most renowned writers gave me the satisfaction of knowing there is still a road to travel, without forgetting that there is the hope of bequeathing our work if we have deposited our soul in it. It is a corner of marine wakes, the Creator’s imaginary space in which traces and echoes of the poet are left.
Contemplating the sky from Rapel, a unique place for this activity, made me feel as it we are star dust, the ideal food for the great beasts that still sleep in this part of the Andes, sure in their knowledge that the day they awaken they will share with us, from the Milky Way, more secrets of the universe.
Returning to Santiago I was invited by Don Eduardo Undurraga, general manager of the Asociación Chilena de Seguridad, to see part of the magnificent collection housed in the hospitals they administer. The idea is to support the development of artists and, more importantly, to improve the health of patients by giving them the opportunity to see and enjoy the paintings and sculptures of different artists.
Going through the parks and avenues of Santiago is to understand the profound need of expression of its sculptors, understand the indispensable balance that must exist between architecture, engineering and art so that it is now common to walk and, at the same time, learn from this monumental art of great contemporary value for its inhabitants. They have delved into the relevance that this combination has, searching to bring about a better way of life and a defined, clear transcendence for future generations.
Text: Miguel Peraza ± Photo: 1850-2004 Escultura Chilena Contemporánea y ACHS, Cultura & trabajo. Murales y esculturas de la Asociación Chilena de Seguridad.