Rafael Gómezbarros

Selected works by Rafael Gómezbarros

Rafael Gómezbarros
Casa Tomada


Resin, Fiber Glass, Madera, Screen Cotton, Cuerda Arenas, Cerrejón Coal

Body:50 x 20 x 50; Legs 90 x 50 cms

Installations of hundreds of sculptures representing fifty centimetre long ants take over public buildings. Their bodies are made up by the assembling of two human skull casts as if the Santa Marta-born artist were attempting to summon death in life.
Rafael Gómezbarros’ work makes visible the overlooked. His intention is to address the plight of millions of displaced people who constitute the invisible but pervasive mass of immigrants crossing the planet. Buried in the narrative of diaspora lays a tribute to thousands of Colombians who suffered internal displacement and violent deaths as casualties of the armed conflict that wreaked havoc in the country for the most part of the last fifty years.
Ants being usually associated with hard labour and a complex social organization are turned into phantasms of the disappeared, ghost like figures that have acquired the capacity to take over national monuments. Gómezbarros previously deployed his legion of ants onto historical buildings such as Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino – the haçienda where Simón Bolívar spent his final days – as well as Barranquilla’s customs building.
In Bogotá, he invaded a commercial gallery with one thousand polyester cast creatures and covered the National Congress’s stone façade, his most meaningful attempt to address the national security policies that endorsed a violent status quo for decades.
Entitled Casa Tomada, the work makes a very particular reference to a short story by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, in which the inhabitants of a large mansion become invaded by elusive presences announced solely by muted sounds. In the context of these public art interventions, the metaphor reminds the viewer what Cortázar himself declared shortly before passing away: unless a country buries its dead, they will always be remembered as ghosts in the attic.

Text © Gabriela Salgado


Art By Apostolos Mitsios, 12 March 2010, Yatzer

House Taken" is an original symbiosis between nature and art in the mind of Colombian artist Rafael Gómezbarros. All it takes is 1300 ants that seem to have no moral inhibitions to take over any important monument around, this time being the building of the National Congress of Colombia. But do not get scared dear Yatzereaders, the goal behind it is to promote culture and open a debate about immigration, displacement and rootlessness.

The ants, like immigrants, are true hard workers but this does not mean that a great part of the society does not look at them like a big threat. It is exactly this kind of contradictions that House Taken tries to raise, in that special way that only art can do. The House Taken project (Casa Tomada in Spanish) began in 2007 in Colombia in monuments like the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Santa Marta (2008), the Customs House in Barranquilla (2009), Alonso Garcés Gallery in Bogota (2010) and the Congress of the Republic of Colombia (running till 26 of March). Rafael Gómezbarros uses various materials for his project, including fiberglass, resin, sand, coal, cords and branches. The installation varies according to the size of the building.¨

Source: yatzer.com

Mar 12, 2013, by Piers Calvert, The City Paper Bogota

Rafael Gómezbarros’s Bogotá studio resembles a Tim Burton fantasy. There are larger-than-life ants on the walls. Ants all over the floor. Ants on shelves. On the artist’s sunny terrace, next to crisp white patio furniture, are hundreds more, stacked like corpses underneath a large plastic tarp.
That these are sculptures and not live insects doesn’t lessen the sensation of being inside an especially frightening entomology exhibit. Gómezbarros cradles them as if they were babies as he discusses his Casa Tomada art project, which in English means “Taken House.”

The artist, who possesses an infectious laugh and smile, explains that what interests him about ants is their “duality,” which he represents in his work by creating ants with two different skulls, made from glass fiber and tied together with cotton. On one hand, as tenacious, hardworking insects, ants symbolize the resilience and good spirit of Colombians.
Gómezbarros uses ants to explore the negative issues that affect Colombia, such as displacement and migration. As insects that are constantly on the move, “ants live displacement,” he says. It is unclear whether the ants are the invaders or the invaded, another “dual” aspect that appeals to the artist.

Source: thecitypaperbogota.com