Johanna Calle’s “Drawings”


The Maison de l’Amérique Latine hosts a remarkable exhibition of work by Columbian artist Johanna Calle (to December 20, 2017). Although titled “Drawings” it is much more than that. Her drawings explore the idea of line in all its forms while using text, lattice screens, metal and cloth.  Wire is an integral material for many of her projects. Calle often uses it alongside drawing. She says “It is a more dimensional form of line and can communicate certain things that simply drawing cannot… My artworks are the result of research processes that discuss the investigation of materials.” Underlying the visual dimension of her work are such dialectics as abstract vs figurative and what is legible and illegible… the details we see up close and how things look further away.

Calle is a socially concerned artist. She looks at such issues as gender, hunger, poverty, the environment and urbanization from the perspective of a Columbian artist who understands we live in a global village. For example her work titled “Baidos” depicts the tissue of a leaf where the veins of the leaf consist of tiny text discussing the effects of glyphosate chemicals. Another work “Lluviasa’ (2013), consisting of 97 drawings, contemplates disappearing indigenous languages.

Many of Calle’s works look at language and communication. “Chambacú Albalá” (2007) is a series of drawings that relate to the Arabic language and Moorish ornamentation. The strings of words and phrases in Islamic geometric shapes refer to the fact that a large number of Spanish words have an Arabic origin.  “The use of text in my work is not purely aesthetic,” says Calle. “I am interested in how text and words relate to things like linguistic gender discrimination, dialects, etymology and indigenous languages.”

Johanna Calle “Dibujos/Dessins,” to December 20, 2017, la Maison de l’Amérique latine, 217, Bd St. Germain, Paris 75007