Donna Huanca | HAYUMARCA OJOS | Viewing room | 2023

26 January - 04 March 2023 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

I want the experience of my work to create a surreal moment similar to a hallucination
- Donna Huanca

Goodman Gallery presents HAYUMARCA OJOS, a selection of new immersive paintings and sculptures by Donna Huanca, marking the American artist’s first exhibition on the African continent.

HAYUMARCA OJOS presents a tension between layering and concealment, suggested by the exhibition title, which joins together Hayumarca, the Quechuan name of an archaeological site discovered near Lake Titicaca on the border between present-day Peru and Bolivia, and “ojos” (“eyes” in Spanish). This combination reflects how Huanca uses language to sculpt new meanings.

Pulling overarching thematic threads across the exhibition, this latest body of work closely considers the body, the earth and Andean heritage using gestural brushstrokes and colour palettes informed by ongoing engagement with the earth’s DNA; its minerals, gems, meteorites and plants. The result is a complex world of interconnected elements that reflect on fragmented identity and the obscuring of narratives.

Informed by an ongoing engagement with the earth and the body, HAYUMARCA OJOS gives rise to a world where human biology, the underwater world and the plant kingdom are intertwined. Materials used by Huanca relate to nature and speak to the artist’s desire to reclaim the earth’s raw materials from an ecological gaze.

Huanca’s repertoire of textures and materials also draw from her immediate, everyday environment. This sees natural materials coexist with synthetic materials such as plastic. In Huanca’s hands, plastic is valued for its protective qualities. Used as a membrane, it covers as much as it reveals in the sculptures KAWSAYKUQ (2022) and SLICE GLAND (2022).

At the core of her practice is an exploration of the human body; its processes, its transformation and its relationship to space and identity. The body is referenced by working with live models or through the use of garments. As the daughter of Bolivian immigrants, their native country and cultural traditions are also a recurring inspiration to her practice.

This exploration of the body is evident in the paintings AZUL HOLOTHUROIDEA (2022) and YUM KAAX (2022) where viewers can glimpse fractured sections of photography buried under Huanca’s vibrant, abstract landscapes.