6 April – 4 May 2017
The Peltz Gallery, 43 Gordon Square

El Encanto is a new exhibition of work by the artist Freddy Dewe Mathews. The series, developed over the last three years, looks at the history of the rubber industry in the Putumayo, a large area of the Colombian Amazon once heavily exploited for this naturally occurring resource. El Encanto borrows its name from one of the sites where Casa Arana (a Peruvian rubber company) operated.

Developed during various trips made by the artist to remote and historically important sites, the show looks at how, at the nucleus of a spiraling and often paradoxical history, the essentially harmonious process of tapping – an interaction between a tapper and a rubber tree – has come to echo the central allegory attached to it, that of bleeding.

The project also seeks to explore the many parallel histories that have developed from this industry, such as the indigenous myths of transfiguring and sexually predatory dolphins or the sexual exploits of the British investigator that went on to be hanged by his own government. The project refers to the source of this spectral material and the inherent metaphors in the process of bleeding this tree.

This is a collaboration between the artist Freddy Dewe Mathews and Dr Luciana Martins of Birkbeck, University of London, with the support of the Centre for Iberian and Latin American Visual Studies (CILAVS).

Kindly supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Associated events

6 April 2017, 6pm, Birkbeck Cinema. ‘Landscapes of Abandonment’ roundtable  ‘Landscapes of Abandonment’ considers the histories of the Putumayo region in Colombia and the challenges of a critical artistic practice that interrogates the legacies of exploitative activities on abandoned places.After an introduction by Luciana Martins (Birkbeck), there will be short presentations by Jordan Goodman (UCL), Leslie Wylie (Leicester), and Xavier Ribas (Brighton) followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception.

7 April 2017, 6-9pm – Exhibition opening and reception at the Peltz Gallery.

8 April 2017, 2.30-5pm, Birkbeck Cinema – Screening of No Paiz das Amazonas (In the Land of the Amazons, Silvino Santos, 1922, 129’) This is a unique opportunity to see pioneering moving images of Amazonia in the early twentieth century. Using footage made on his travels of more than 10,000 kilometres throughout Amazonia, Silvino Santos produced a view of the region as a modern, productive place, ready for future investment.

3 May 2017, 7-8pm Peltz Gallery – Artist in Conversation Join artist Freddy Dewe Mathews in conversation with curator Robert Leckie as they discuss the issues of landscape, progress, international trade and local mythology that are raised by Mathews’ Peltz Gallery exhibition ‘El Encanto’

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