500 people? 600? You had to push your shoulders to have a good place to see the performance. The Mambo lived one of its best nights in recent times at the inauguration of the anthological exhibition of Rosemberg Sandoval, one of the wildest, most unpredictable and valuable conceptual artists in Colombia.

Sandoval was not alone. It was a multiple opening; On the first floor and the basement is the work of the Australian artist Mike Parr, one of the heroes of world performance art who did a long-lasting action starting at five in the afternoon. On the third floor, the Argentine Ana Gallardo and María Us did the same a few hours later. At 8 pm it was Sandoval’s turn; the minutes passed and there were no loud talks. The stage where he was going to do his performance it became a focus of silence.

(Read also: Esteban Peña: the artist who discovered the secrets of a fly’s gaze)

Rosenberg – author of performances and works that are part of the country’s history, such as his Dirt, in which he picked up a beggar, carried him on his shoulders to a museum and then painted several canvases with his body, or his sculptures with glass from the time of the drug-trafficking bombs – appeared dressed in white with several bouquets of roses.

The silence deepened; rosemberg he sat down on a stone and began to break the roses, to remove the petals, to break the stems, to scrape their hands against the thorns. The red of the petals mixed with her blood. The image was poetic and violent. The floor was dyed green and red and the people – after applause – picked up the broken roses from the floor. Sandoval made his self-portrait for EL TIEMPO.

What was the first work of art you saw in your life?

I remember that as a child I saw a neighbor stabbing another neighbor to death, I also have the image of my dad climbing a magic ladder and hitting a wall with a whitewashed swab.

What is, so far, your masterpiece?

My performance Dirt, where I am assisted by a fainted homeless man turned into an angel.

What has been the most impressive reaction you have seen from someone in front of your work?

That of my mother Teresa Gómez who, dying and with a shredded voice, told me: ‘Mijo, I’m dying and I never understood those strange things that you do, they have no beginning or end.’ I looked at her in a sacred way for the last time, then she looked at herself, crossed herself and vanished forever.

Sandoval’s exhibition at the Mambo collects the pieces and the memory of his most powerful and emblematic works.

Why did you decide to become an artist?

My destiny was set, at the age of seven at school: I drew my dad with his pants down, two days’ beard, holding his penis with one hand and holding a plate of food with the other. My teacher Heriberto Zapata sent for my parents to warn them: ‘this child is an artist’. I believed it.

What does a performance mean?

It is one of the ways of making contemporary art where there is no plot, but a lot of awareness and memory tied to a context. Body actions where subject and object become a workshop for experimentation.

What has been your worst creative crisis?

My creative process has always been fluid, although I always felt that I didn’t fit in socially and as a child I was impressed by existing.

Duchamp or Picasso?

Kurt Schwitters and Torres Garcia.

What artist, living or dead, would you commission to paint your portrait?

To Epifanio Garay.

Do you remember who bought your first work?

In 1981, through an exchange of invitation for work to the VII Salón Atenas organized by the Mambo at the National Museum of Bogotá.

Do you keep your child’s drawings?

My family is fervently Christian and ignorant.

How many years has he been in his career?

Next November 18, I celebrate 43 years of professional career.

What is the criticism that has bothered you the most?

I lead the life of a saint.

And what has made you happy the most?

They have all been valuable; however, I can name all the curating work of Hans Michael Herzog and the good press for the Cantos, cuentos colombianos exhibition in Zurich and Rio de Janeiro. And now the excellent curatorship of my Anthology by Eugenio Viola and Juaniko Moreno from the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá.

Your work is in different collections, which one makes you feel most proud?

The Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá, the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) and Daros in Zurich.

Do you have any work that you have not wanted to sell?

Yes, Puñal, which belongs to the Paola Andrea and Tomasito de Jamundí Collection.

How many pieces do you think you have produced?

Many, the visual arts are very dynamic.

Do you consider yourself a genius?

Just a special being, widely read, who has been able to build an international career with a minimum wage in a country like Colombia.

What are your favorite work materials?

My body turned into a workshop, so I use sweat, dirt, blood, urine.

One of the sculptures that Sandoval created during the years of the terrorist attacks on drug trafficking. His raw material was the glass that was left on the street after the explosions.


Fernando Gomez Echeverri

How tidy is your workshop?

The third floor of my house in Jamundí is my orderly, clean, magical and magnetized workshop.

Do you have work hours?

I am very active with my work, I live for it.

How was your ‘style’ born?

The eighties, the generation to which I belong, is the end of styles.

Do you collect works by other artists?

I have a half dozen things saved and unframed, except for Tomasito’s drawings.

What is the artist you most admire in Colombia?

Carlos Rojas, and a dozen things by Óscar Muñoz.

(You may be interested: The teacher David Manzur made his Self-portrait for EL TIEMPO)

For you, who is the most important living artist in the world?

Gerhard Richter.

With which artist would you like to exhibit in the same room?

I have shared a room with Marcel Duchamp, Goya, Beuys, Torres García, Bill Viola, Reverón, among others.

Detail of the roses she uses in her performance.

What universal work of art would you like to have in your living room?

None. Universal art belongs to humanity.

Have you cried in front of a work of art?

I felt chills with Duchamp, Goya and Reverón.

Who is the artist who has inspired you the most and the one you have studied the most?

Kurt Schwitters, Malevich and all ancestral and contemporary Latin American art.

Why is it worth buying one of his works?

Art is the best investment, especially in the case of the only Colombian political and contextual artist.

Fernando Gomez Echeverri


Original Publisher: https://www.eltiempo.com/cultura/arte-y-teatro/el-artista-plastico-rosemberg-sandoval-presenta-retrospectiva-en-el-mambo-782454