Diego Mendoza Imbachi (Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America)

For Diego Mendoza Imbachi the process of gardening is intrinsically linked to art making, a platform for his ongoing exploration into the natural landscape and topographies of rural Colombia. Growing up in the department of Cauca in the village of venta Cajibio, an active area for farming and gardening, Imbachi noticed the impact of industrialisation on his own soil. Drawing on his previous vocations of farming and gardening in a region dependent on its livestock and agriculture, the artist began to observe rapid changes in the landscape. In an artistic response, he began actively drawing his environment with pencil and graphite, cataloguing transformations and mutations in real time. The outcome has been a naturalistic reimagining of biological processes through detailed accounts of fantastical plant forms and futuristic realties.

What Imbachi had identified was the problem of interventions on the land, mainly by multi-national corporations who continue to mine Colombia’s natural resources. Having grown up amongst the large plantations of pine and eucalyptus, Imbachi witnessed the expanding capitalist monopoly that prompted the erection of foreign communication towers on his native soil. Imbachi’s largely biographical output is located in this very tension, as the artist’s attempts to sketch out a world in which technology and nature are as all embracing as they are consuming. A hybridisation of natural forms and antennae (The Poetics of reflection, 2014), are a visualisation of the germinating exchanges between the two ideological worlds.

The artist’s interest in the native species and their rootedness in exchanges with Australia and colonial Spain, offer a rich subtext for the curious hybrid tree/antennae that dominate Imbachi’s large scale drawings. In this scientific imaginary landscape, structures feed themselves as they expand from edge to edge their surfaces becoming three-dimensional and strangely immersive (Graphis – Natura, 2012). They recall taxonomic studies, as natural elements like tree leaves and plants become the documents of unchartered scientific progress.

The contemplation of the beauty in natural forms becomes a site for a different interpretation of his local landscape. A heterogeneous set of proposals, Imbachi’s drawings of inner landscapes expose the deceptive simplicity of rural environments by considering in/organic processes through which plant forms come into being. Imbachi is interested in an ecosystem of processes informed by the relationships between organisms. Like a natural rug of dry pine leaves intercepts the land art movement; Imbachi’s practice embraces the sculptural forms of the undisturbed landscape, extracting from nature to question the division between the essence of the organic and the experience of the artificial.

© Osei Bonsu, 2014

Diego Mendoza Imbachi, The Poetics of Reflection, 2014, Graphite and binder on canvas, 300 x 600 cm

Diego Mendoza Imbachi, The Poetics of Reflection, 2014, Graphite and binder on canvas, 300 x 600 cm