Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today

South London Gallery
written by Suzanne Harb

Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today is one of a trio of touring exhibitions from the Guggenheim-UBS’ MAP Global Art Initiative. 

The London leg of the exhibition (which will also visit Sao Paulo and Mexico City) curated by Mexico born Pablo León de la Barra brings nearly 50 pieces from more than 40 artists born after the late 60’s to the South London Gallery. The result: a rich array of works that convey a dialogue of the shared reality of artists internationally. 

Simon Armstrong (Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation), Margot Heller (SLG Director) and Pablo León de la Barra (curator) introducing the show.


The works, shown as part of the MAP initiative, will enter into the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. This is an interesting move from the western institution to engage with and collect works from non-western artists. This position of awareness is telling of the current climate in art. Even the private markets have not escaped; Christies have dubbed one of its seven hot trends for 2016 as ‘the rise of non western art’.

Entrance to the main gallery


The exhibition itself spans the whole of the gallery space, including the recently donated former Peckham Road Fire Station, ‘the earliest surviving purpose-built fire station in London’ which won’t be fully completed and open to visitors until 2018. Pablo has included in the selection a rich variety of artistic forms including sculpture, installation, painting, video and a performance piece by Amalia Pica (every Saturday at 1pm) and other off-site art works.

Be sure to check out Federico Herrero’s mural on the Pelican housing estate during your visit. The mural, not only an important Latin American artistic tradition, does well to tie in the large Latin American community that resides in the area and subtly reinforces the idea of shared global cultural narrative despite geography.

View of Amalia Pica's AnBnC (2013) and Carlos Amorales' We’ll See How Everything Reverberates (2012)


Pablo spoke of his complete submersion in the two-year long project that has seen him travel across his native region and surrounding areas, visiting artists and their workshops. His aim was to collate a group of artists that tackled issues and themes that surround a shared reality and addressing the influences of ‘colonial and modern histories, repressive governments, economic crises [and] social inequality’. To set the stage for this Pablo included the works of two older artists who have greatly influenced the landscape of contemporary South American artistic expression today and so their canonisation will live on with important works like Alfredo Jaar’s A Logo for America (1987) being included in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. 

Alfredo Jaar’ A Logo for America (1987)


Many of the works have a participation element to them. Most notably Carlos Amorales’ We’ll See How Everything Reverberates (2012) invites the viewer to play the mobile (visually indicative of the work of Alexander Calder) of cymbals. It is this interactivity with the work that gives the show a playful element. This participation goes to further the sense of interconnectivity between artist, his message and viewer. Enabling this kind of conversation cements the viewer in the show and in this wider idea of global communication initiative, something I feel that cements MAP’s aim. 

 Pablo interacting with Amorales’ work


While some may question the Guggenheim’s motivations to appear culturally engaging in this manner I see this initiative as an important breakthrough no matter the motivations. As Richard Armstrong noted during the launch he found that there were a great number of unexpected similarities between the Guggenheim and SLG as institutions, and the further people go to foster unlikely global relationships the more democratic our view of the contemporary art world can become. 

Further Readings: 

Office page of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Official page of South London Gallery
Official page of Guggenheim Map Global Art Initiative