SMFA graduate Gonzalo Fuenmayor explores notions of national identity, geographic displacement, and colonial histories in his first solo exhibition at the MFA.

Fuenmayor’s Colombian heritage and Latino identity collide in works that address Latin America’s colonial past and its legacy. With an elegant flourish, he collages familiar symbols of Latin America with those of Europe, melding bananas and jungle foliage with ornate decorative objects and opulent architecture. His unexpected combinations harness the complex culture clash and enduring tension between the two regions. They also reference “magical realism”—the literary genre marked by a blend of the fantastic and mundane, perhaps best known today through the works of fellow Colombian Gabriel García Márquez and Argentina’s Jorge Luis Borges.

Fuenmayor earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2004. In 2013, he was awarded the School’s prestigious Traveling Fellowship. He used the funds to visit part of his native country that he had never seen before: Leticia, Colombia’s southern-most city, which sits on the banks of the Amazon River where Colombia, Brazil, and Peru converge. This inspired Fuenmayor to make work on a Colombian banana plantation; his first video art piece, on view in the exhibition, documents that experience.

Above: Gonzalo Fuenmayor, Genesis I, 2013. Archival inkjet on metallic paper, edition 3 of 5. Museum purchase with funds donated by Leigh Bonilla Braude through The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection and an anonymous donor. © Gonzalo Fuenmayor.