MA Studies > Fine art > Fine art alumnus > Felipe Zapata Zuluaga

Felipe Zapata Zuluaga

Dumb as a Painter

“We do not have a conceptual tool that allows us to face a society whose development does not fit this model, so we force others to adjust to our own."
Civilization: A new history of the western world, Roger Osborne


My works are the visual outcome of my need to find the genesis of images that are instinctively consumed, images that define our individuality and our role as social beings. Each work is an attempt to point out how an image –or an idea- could perpetuate a western speech that defines the values that we should have, the hierarchies in which society must operate, what should be considered strange and what is not, what culturally should be prioritized and what should become invisible, who should have a voice and who should be muted, who should be the victim or the perpetrator. Under this line of thought, I am not just trying to build my own identity, but, I am trying too to identify and challenge my role as a Latin-American inside the western art context. By a western political construction I am an outsider, so I have to work with the scraps that the postcolonial structure has left: I work with the practices that I have inherited and the practices that have been stolen, with which is ontologically own and with what has been assigned historically.

How the notions about art and postcolonialism politics affect the creation of a cultural identity? How certain types of images represent the values of a colonial discourse over time? How the image perpetuates and affirms a hierarchy of traditions? How an image can determine the way in which power relations in a society develop, whether they are fair or not? It is inside this conceptual gaps - the theoretical difference between proclaimed values and assumed practical purposes - where my work tries to dig without daring to formulate a truth. In this sense, my artistic practice is close to the nature of the indicial mark: Instead of naming or labeling, my work tries topoint. Tries to guide the sight. Phillippe Dubois called this feature the principle of designation: "The index makes us -by a blind impulse- turn our gaze and our attention towards the reference and only on it. [The trace] not only testifies, but, even more dynamically, designates"[1]. These reflections are the product of a research-based method that has as main purpose the production of practice-based artworks. Although I try to identify and stimulate the complex relationship between the notion of identity and postcolonialism structures, the main intention of my works is to tell stories with an appealing narrative which challenge the notions of hierarchy in contemporary art.


[1] DUBOIS, Phillippe. The photographic: From representation to reception. Paidós, 1983, p. 69 (Translation by Author)