Gonzalo Fuenmayor

Cindy Seip

Drawing from experiences of his birthplace of Colombia and of living in the United States, artist Gonzalo Fuenmayor sets assumptions about assimilation, exoticism, and colonialism on their heads in Tropical Burn (Delmonico Books), revealing nuances about human identity. It’s material Fuenmayor has mined before. In his exhibition Empire (2019), he examined how we survive past empires, both political and personal. Though today they lie in ruins, their rules and structures often remain present, dictating norms and behaviors regardless of whether they are compatible with our contemporary values or ideal ways of being. In the book, opulent Victorian-era façades explore a darker colonial subtext, where power struggles and displacement take the form of fallen palm trees and bunches of bananas. He deconstructs McDonald’s and other commercial icons to playfully subvert the power of consumerist industry while examining the impact of North American business practices around the world. This monograph displays the breadth and rigor of Fuenmayor’s work during his residency at Miami’s Oolite Arts. Diving deep into his body of work, one encounters each drawing as a world unto itself, with insights about what it means to practice as a Latin American artist today.