In a digital age where social networks have homogenized creativity in an undistinguished market, discovering artists and innovators who continue the tradition of art for art’s sake is a blessing.
Especially if they are creators involved with social causes or “artivism.”
One such pioneer is Colombian contemporary artist and muralist Juliana Plexxo, a member of the new generation of Latino artists who are breaking the glass ceiling on the international scene.
Originally from Bogota, Juliana can trace the inspiration and strength behind her pieces to the violence she saw first hand as a child in Colombia, the death of her journalist father when she was four years old, or even that of her grandfather, a fashion designer who took care of her afterward.
“I think that made me bring out an inner strength that today I can say is Art,” Plexxo told BELatina News.
Since then, her work has been defined by mysterious geometric shapes that remind us of early 20th-century abstractionism. Her work blends faces, profiles, animal eyes, and thick strokes in red, black, or white.
Her work has been exhibited in major galleries, and her murals have reached renowned spaces such as the Wynwood Art District in Miami.
Her first exhibition in Spain was held at Clubhaus Barcelona. Now, Juliana Plexxo is part of the legendary Taller 46 in Barcelona, founded by Joan Barbará, one of the great Spanish artists and pioneer of the art of engraving.
Born in 1927 in Barcelona, Barbará was a member of the glorious generation of Parisian artists at the turn of the century and counted Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró among his closest friends. Upon his return to Barcelona, his studio would not only house Picasso’s prints or Miró’s work but would become a root in time in the history of art.
Today, Plexxo is the only young Latina working and exhibiting at the legendary Taller.
“For me, it is a challenge to be there because it means that my professors saw the potential in me. I think that more than a proud moment, it is a very big challenge that raises the bar to go far,” Plexxo explained.
When tradition and activism come together
For Juliana Plexxo, art and activism are inseparable, and her new project is a testament to that.
Plexxo partnered with Reby, a start-up that promotes the use of ecological and recyclable vehicles through carpooling and respect for the environment.
“This caught my attention. I have always believed that the youth is the future of humanity and society. So when this nice collaboration arose, we thought about doing something different – something artistic that would identify with Barcelona, which is a city that breathes art from Gaudi to Dali and many other painters.”
She continued to explain the partnership to promote these environmental friendly rideshares: “The collaboration consisted of painting four different motorcycles, we decided to turn the bikes into a unique piece of art and place them in the most emblematic places of Barcelona, such as La Pedrera, Casa Batllo, and La Sagrada Familia. It is an initiative so that people can appreciate the motorcycle but also keep the underlying message, which is [the use of] sustainable mobility in cities, and I think Barcelona is a very nice example.”
It’s artists like Plexxo who, with clear purposes, inspire future generations. “My first objective, which continues to grow with the passage of time, is to vindicate the role of women in the world of art. During the best modern times of art, only men came out to display their genius, which I think is fine, but if you are asked which are the best painters of all time, women are counted with the fingers of the hand. My second goal is to capture my Latin roots around the world. In fact, a few months ago, I was invited to the Wynwood Art District in Miami to do a huge wall of about ten meters high that I called LATINOAMERICA. And the third objective is to be able to bring back to light the technique of engraving – a technique that has slowly disappeared little by little with the use of technology. For me, mixing the past with the future is fundamental in my work.”