An exhibition by Abel Rodríguez
NuMu is pleased to present Tierra Firme, the first solo exhibition by Abel Rodríguez (also known as Mogaje Guihu) in Guatemala.
Machacha. Cavesa de churuca. Dare dare barba de pintadillo. Matata. Uña de chive. Batata verde. Cabeza de chucha. Churymt. Cangrejo. Mayno. Matata de Rallo. Ñame dulce. Jeva nigae. Ñame morado. Maycura. Mayno.
These are the names of some of the plants native to the Colombian Amazon, which are in danger of extinction due to the overexploitation of the world’s largest rainforest. These are also the names of the plants that adorn NuMu’s façade, referencing a drawing from 2017 by Rodríguez titled Las matas que se ciembra en la chagra són tuverculos (The bushes that are sowed in the chagra are tubers), of which a facsimile sits inside the museum, along with the facsimiles of Tierra Firme III y Terraza Alta V (both from 2019).
Broadly speaking, Rodríguez’s practice seeks to preserve the deep knowledge and memory that has accumulated over the years in relation to his place of birth, and which was instilled in him by his uncle. His drawings and paintings, which portray the ecosystems of the tropical jungles in the Nonuya region of the Colombian Amazon in a remarkably detailed manner, are not only artistic works of great value in themselves, but have also become treasured documents for western biologists and botanists in recent years.
The three drawings that comprise the exhibition are surrounded by endemic plants of Guatemala, transforming NuMu into a kind of personal micro-park that encourages us to disconnect from the pandemic and connect with nature. At the same time, this gesture invites us to come closer and familiarize ourselves with some of the plants that evolved in our jungles and forests, and are now at high risk of disappearing due to the rampant deforestation of our natural environment.
This exhibition intertwines the artist’s interest in preserving the ancestral knowledge of the Amazon’s biodiversity through his artistic practice, with NuMu’s interest in raising awareness of the great threat that our forests -in Guatemala City, and the rest of the country- are facing. As you read this, the forests of the Finca del Socorro -one of the most important green lungs of our city- are being cut down for the development of a new phase of the Ciudad Cayalá megaproject, which obtained construction permits despite multiple anomalies, and deficiencies found in an Environmental Impact Study (Estudio de Impacto Ambiental - EIA). Similarly, the jungles and forests in the rest of the country have been deforested for decades upon decades, due to the advance of single-crop farming, livestock grazing, drug trafficking, and illegal logging for the local and international commercialization of wood.
Tierra Firme will remain open to the public throughout 2021, as an annual project that will occur simultaneously in physical and virtual realms, along with a podcast of five episodes to be produced and published throughout the year, through which we will delve into some of the most important themes of the exhibition within the Guatemalan context.
Abel Rodríguez (Cahuinarí, Putumayo, 1941) is a sage of the Nonuya people who possesses the ancestral knowledge of the medicinal plants and the ecological systems of the Amazon basin. In the 90s, after his family left La Chorrera, his native territory, because of the Colombian armed conflict, Rodríguez found a way to preserve his legacy by drawing his knowledge. Now, due to the work of contemporary artists, curators and scientists his pieces are valued for their plastic qualities and for the unique cosmovision they transmit, not only about the jungle, but also about the human condition.
Through the record and description of the botanical and religious environmental knowledge of the Nonuyas, transmitted from generation to generation, through a very strict lineage that is maintained by means of diets and severe restrictions, the work of Abel Rodríguez is an ancestral treasure, a gift of the jungle to this globalized, totalizing and homogenized world.
NuMu thanks Instituto de Visión for their support in the realization of this exhibition.