MAGMA, Ignacio Bahna, November 2015

In 2005, Chilean artist Ignacio Bahna begins with the construction of his house 900 kilometers south of Santiago de Chile. Situated in a wild landscape, 2000 meters high and surrounded by 3 volcanos – Quetrupillan, Villarica and Lanin – Bahna would there start with an artistic practice in harmony with the environment. On the 3rd of March 2015, the earth suddenly began to roar. The sky went reddish and a black rain poured on the floor an amazing amount of volcanic black stones. The Villarica volcano had erupted. A few months later, a cloud made of the ashes from another erupting volcano –Calbuco, situated 300 km from Bahna’s house- left the complete landscape covered with a grey coat. Those 2 events left on Bahna the sensation that this precise place was able to attract all the geological sediments of the area like a magnet. Last but not the least, a forest fire (caused by human this time) burned down thousands of acres of native forest in the same region, leaving the landscape in a complete chaos.

Ignacio Bahna begun a profound reflection on the apocalypse he had experienced and the romantic version of environment that is build up by the people who are not in true contact with nature. It became urgent for him to pass on the natural processes he had witnessed in his artistic work.

MAGMA is the result of his investigation through the outstanding carbonized landscapes of his southern region. Observing the effects of volcanic explosions, examining the wastes expulsed by the mountain and spread all over, considering the strength of destruction trough fire and commotion, Ignacio went on collecting found objects from the floor, bending his back in a gesture of salvaging the fruits after a disaster. He gathered pieces of wood turned to charcoal that he would later on work preciously and integrate in his mural sculptures. Appealed by the light of fire, Ignacio Bahna uses a special material: “picoyo” is a kind of amber that results from the decomposition of Araucaria tree. Cut into slim slices, translucent, it takes a vibrant fire-like color when light is applied on it. Using the technology of LED, the “picoyo” is mounted together with the charcoal wood and the sculptures appear on the wall as cracks on the skirts of a volcano, glowing in the dark. When looking at the sculptures, it is impressive to think those materials come from so far away and had to go through such a transformation to get to us.

With this exhibition, YAM Gallery follows on with its artistic residency program. After receiving Algerian artist Massinissa Selmani in 2014 for 6 weeks, Ignacio Bahna from Chile is YAM’s resident during the whole month of November 2015. To produce this residency, Bahna has received a scholarship from the Mexican Agency for Development (AMEXCID). Bahna’s time in San Miguel will be dedicated to complete his MAGMA project with drawings produced in San Miguel, as well as an installation in situ, made of local material recollected by the artist on the Palo Huerfano volcano, also known as Picacho mountain in San Miguel de Allende.  This exhibition is the first one of the Chilean artist in Mexico.