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Indepth Arts News:

"Jorge Restrepo: Tactile Art"
2006-05-26 until 2006-06-02
Museo Universitario
Medellin, , CO Colombia

With a traveling exhibition that has gained international attention, Jorge Restrepo has created a space of reflection and learning. This exhibition, donated by Restrepo to Handicap International, is made entirely in the color white, where textures are the way to discover the wonder of the tactile perception. This is a contribution to the human effort to include blind people, that simultaneously raises interesting ways for the expression and definition of "the visual" arts. The exhibition, which is currently at the Museo Universitario, in Medellin, Colombia, does not rely on information written in ink. The sighted depend on blind guides that give information to them about the artist and the titles of each work... since the labels are written in Braille. The room altogether is sober and creates an authentic installation.

The writer Donaldo Altamirano describes the exhibit: “The novelty, the uncommon nature of this project, was what initially attracted the attention of those who, more than spectators, were the main actors. The effect of strangeness, this taste of extravagance and paradox were what captured the interest of the majority of the people coming from diverse social sectors, whose wills converged to make the exhibit not only a fully realized experience, but a spiritual adventure, in an intense contact between two ignored universes, separated by obstinate barriers. And in this sense it surpassed all prior expectations”.

The experience encapsulates an intense and edifying intention that surpasses the habitual frameworks of formal education. For the blind it has been an enjoyable experience of both learning and teaching; much more than just an ordinary social activity.

Restrepo's work now takes on extra dimensions of appreciation, to be experienced not just from in front of, but from within. The main participants do not clearly realize that they themselves, the public and artists, sighted people and visually impaired, formed part of the work, that their emotions, their discoveries, the displacement of their daily perspectives, the solidarity summoned and manifested, their intentions of social communication, form an essential part of Jorge Restrepo’s conceptual actions.

Then came the main experience for the sighted people, who blindfolded themselves and let their imagination and intuition guide them as if by a certain randomness. One of the visually impaired particpants, Armando Sánchez, relates some very significant experiences: “It was interesting to observe the reactions of the blindfolded sighted people, perceiving how they blindly scanned a painting, hearing how they searched a place, how they managed to express their imagination in words, comparing how they received the impressions, playing the role of being circumstantially blind”.

The novel experiences were varied and intense. This exposition, in short, represented an opportunity to express profound human solidarity, an adventure of the imagination and intuition, a brushing of ineffable perceptions that were communicated by means of the spoken word - the common medium - creating a zone of exceptions between the tangible and the intangible.

Jorge Restrepo has been a Premiere Portfolio Artist at absolutearts.com since 2003. View more of his work at http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/j/jorgerestrepo/

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