The second part of our art walk in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia [for part 1, see our previous blog post], began at the NH Galeria where we had the opportunity to get an introduction to about a dozen contemporary Colombian artists whose work was on display (and for sale) at the gallery. The gallery staff was very helpful and shared many good insights.
With our Colombian-born fellow traveler, who served as hostess for the afternoon, along with a local tourist guide, we drove across town to the historical neighborhood of Getsemaní where Colombian-born artist Ruby Rumié lives. [Note: we had been introduced to some of her work at the NH Galeria.] Getsemaní is quite a contrast with the upper-class Cartagena neighborhood that Ruby grew up in comfortably. She chose to live and work in the midst of a “real” working class neighborhood of Cartagena. When we exited the van, the first thing we saw was graffiti covering the wall of the residences facing the street.
Graffiti are writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or painted illicitly on a wall or other surface, often in a public place. Graffiti range from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and they have existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. In modern times, paint (particularly spray paint) and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner’s consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime. — Wikipedia
We spent the next 45 minutes meandering along the streets of her neighborhood, soaking up the wall art and meeting and greeting a lot of her neighbors of the street, in public squares, in front of the local church, etc. The area was quite photogenic!
Ruby Rumié met us at the door to her studio and was a terrific hostess and “teacher”, sharing insights about her life, her methodology, her projects and her future plans. This was an amazing opportunity to see and understand her art and the thinking, planning and social goals for her projects. We were sad to have to depart before all our questions were answered — we had a very lively and informative discussion — but were thrilled to receive a copy of her latest book which documents several of her recent projects.
“Ruby Rumié’s work includes painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation. She develops projects based on injustice and psychology, and the impact of modern life in the daily lives of common people. Rumié focuses her research on the locals of Getsemaní, a historical neighborhood of Cartagena de Indias, where she lives. Getsemaní is where she finds her conceptual material, analyzing the impact of gentrification and progress, and suggesting a new role for the artist: that in which there is not only an aesthetic and poetic revelation, but also a search of how to manage social and psychological problems through creation.
“Rumié began using the technique of hyperrealism painting to present portraits of the inhabitants of Cartagena. She later incorporated social and territorial heritage, questioning the compromise of the artist with society.
“She implements various tools in her projects such as cartography, census and archival techniques, half way between the final and aesthetic creation, as well as community work and sociological research. Following this path, she recently created the project Hálito Divino (Divine Breath), in which she focused on giving a social and creative voice to women who suffered from domestic violence.
“Ruby Rumié was born in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia in 1958. She lives and works between Cartagena and Santiago, Chile. She studied painting, drawing and sculpture at the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena de Indias, the David Manzur Academy in Bogotá and has participated in several workshops with artists such as Maria Teresa Hincapié, Eugenio Dittborn, Fabián Rendón and Jean Pierre Accoult. She has held exhibitions in Bogotá, Barranquilla, and Cartagena, Colombia; Santiago, Valparíso and Temuco, Chile; Miami, New York, and Washington D.C., USA; Rouen and Paris, France. She recently participated in the international section of the First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia” — NH Galeria, El Centro, Cartagena de Indias
Pictured below is one of her works of art, on display at the NH Galeria in the Old City of Cartagena de Indias.