Marco Arias talks with Wladymir Bernechea about his upcoming exhibition “Invierno” to open in December 2018 at Panam Gallery, in Santiago, Chile.
-How did you feel this week, Wladymir? The year is almost over …
-I feel good, really. I started to study English and I’m making progress in my Japanese classes. Also, I’m playing Nintendo Switch, the last Zelda is very good.
-“Breath of the Wild”, right? How cool! I’ve just finished it recently. The last boss, Ganon, is really disappointing. Well, if you bought a Nintendo it means that you have sold several paintings…
-It is not mine. A friend lent it to me, hahaha. But anyway, I think I’m fine. The year is ending and I am still miraculously very active. At times I realize that this 2018 has felt very long due to all the exhibitions that I had.
– How many, exactly?
-I had three solo shows: “Cría Cuervos” /”Breeding Ravens”/ in the Centro Cultural España, “Quemar las cortinas” /”Burn the curtains”/ in “Aquí Gallery” and another in the sixth region of Chile that had toured four times in different communes: “Reconstrucción emocional de la ciudad de la chimenea” / “Emotional reconstitution of the city of the chimney”/. To that I have to add a duo exhibition: “Combo Breaker”, in “Galería Metropolitana” with you, Marco Arias; and several collectives such as “Variaciones de un hacer melancólico” / “Variations of a melancholic doing”/ in Galería Posada del Corregidor with Gaspar Álvarez and Sasha Seguel, “Convergencias 1” /”Convergences 1″/ and “Convergencias 2” /”Convergences 2″/ in Rancagua and “Practicas de Reiteración” /”Reiteration Practices”/ in Guatemala, a project that we put together with Camila Caris and Jaime Cuevas. To that is added the triple release of my book “From Earth to Heaven” by Editorial Filacteria in three different Chilean cities: one in Viña del Mar with Diego Maureira, in Santiago with Kati Lincopil and in Rancagua with gastón j. muñoz j. To that add the colloquium on anime of the 90s in Chile with Cabra Caluga in Centro Cultural España and a lecture paper on the same thing that I did in Concepción.
-OMG. Is Wladymir Bernechea necessary for the world?
-And now you have an exhibition in December.
-Yes. Now in December, I’ll finish this 2018 with an exhibition called “Invierno” /”Winter”/ in PANAM Gallery. For the occasion, Diego Maureira will write a text again.
-Wow… you both opened the year with “Combo Breaker” and now are closing in PANAM Gallery.
-Maureira also cured my solo show in “Galería Aquí” and was the editor of my book “From Earth to Heaven”. Since I met him in 2017 in the exhibition “Depresión Post Pop” /”Post Pop Depression”/ a bulletproof working group was consolidated.
-Since we started working together, we have never stopped. Each time we accepted more and more projects, and no one rested, always maintaining a level of demand that was growing. The new artworks, whether visual or written, were always superior to the previous ones and that was due to perseverance and rigor.
– Here goes a bullet: how the public should approach this new exhibition if they have already seen and listened repeatedly your name through this year?
-It must be approached from a “nothingness”.
– From a “nothingness”? Impossible. We have seen so many of your paintings…
-“Nothingness” as a sensitive experience. So, the best way to get into the exhibition is to visiting it without thinking about anything. The audience should get into the paintings feeling the cold of the landscapes represented there; feeling to the melancholic and the romantic, ideas that always my painting are trying to give: an intimate moment between spectator and work.
– Don’t you think that the idea of cold, melancholia and romanticism are exactly the opposite of nothing?
-I give you an example: in the film “In the mood for love” by Wong Kar Wai. Have you watched it?
-Nope. But I saw the one about Queen last week…
-Anyway. In this film, the main character tells his love story to a hole in a mountain. The works of this next exhibition are precisely that: a secret between the viewer and the painting. And I’m not who dictate these secrets, are the works who do it after been painted: the pieces have their own life.
-“Things have movement”, said an Argentinian songwriter once. This new solo show in Panam Gallery, with which of your previous exhibitions is more related?
-It goes more in my landscape line. The idea came to me after that the Chilean artist Valentina Maldonado lent me the film “November”, an Estonian production. With this movie I realized that I still had a lot to learn about visuality.
-Because this one took me to many others movies. I started to watch a lot of Eastern European cinema where I’ve met a new type of landscapes, those that fade into white because of the snow and his atmosphere. There I found another sensitivity that caught my attention, so I injected it into my work: the relationship that rests in the limit between one kind of white color with another white. It was a very “Malevich” exercise. I think that this show, unlike my previous ones that were born from an emotional intensity, is about more subtle feelings, even romantic, but that also keep you uptight.
-Apart from this exhibition and playing Zelda, what has had you excited these days.
-I’ve been into dating simulators.
-Yes. They are video games that make you interact with other people, hahaha. I could say that I am playing and learning with them at the same time.
– Do you feel lonely, Wladymir?
-I like to work with the imaginaries of loneliness. They are very common in Japanese culture and have helped me to think about many new works that go from new media even to short films. Things that I have not explored yet and that I want to try. Nowadays there is a lot of artists that when they find a formula for their work, they continue doing that for years until they die of boredom. I think that artists who don’t care about surpassing their own limits are dead artists: resting on laurels is death itself.
-But on the opposite side, making and making and making without taking reflexive rest, to meditate on what are you doing, can also bring important negative consequences. Why do you work tirelessly?
-I think I got used to working like that. Since I started exhibiting years ago I got into a kind machine gun.
– “Wladymir, the machine gun”.
-Hahaha, is because year to year I have never stopped making exhibitions. But, yeah, this 2018 I think I surpassed the limit, but it was not planned. I had nothing in mind and suddenly the opportunities were appearing.
-Do you think there is a value on exhibiting your projects and works so impulsively? Don’t you run out of ideas?
-I don’t believe in “ideas”. If you see the art history, artists are people that have been working around just one idea all their lives. That idea can change, mutate, destroy itself and re-emerge, but is always the same. I believe in the possibility of returning to ignorance and doing something that one doesn’t necessarily handle: that possibility makes entertaining the artistic work. In one of my exhibitions, you can find landscape paintings and then a two-meter phrase of Charly García (Argentinian songwriter) written in Japanese. Those things take away my boredom. The ones that don’t take risks are bureaucrats of art.
-Speaking of which, what is that unique idea that connects all your projects? Please think in exhibitions, Japanese animation paper lectures and writing your own book.
-I think that, at least from “Depresión Post Pop” /”Post Pop Depression”/ onwards, I jumped into the Japanese abyss. That is what connects everything that I do. My paintings are now a mixture of all the research I had done about landscape and architecture, adding Japanese imaginaries. Everything is mixed.
-But, come one… one single idea
-Loneliness. That is what I paint, draw or record in a video. The feeling of emptiness is what floods everything I do.