Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art

The Ring of the Mapuches: Wagner’s Ring Cycle: Effects of truth on presence and time

Juan Davila has been painting scenes from Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen since 2007. The Ring of the Mapuches developed over this period as a contemplation on mythical narrative and its afterimage or effect. Works of interpretation, they consider the truth of the unconscious. Figurative and abstract, they illustrate for us the weavings of myth in the creation of time. We are invited to witness the integration of action and being in that mythical moment of the event by which history is retrospectively written. Each narrative work is a snapshot of a moment to be found in a number of myths, personal or collective, from Nordic myths such as those depicted in Wagner’s Die Walküre to the story of Carmen Gallardo, the indigenous Mapuche Indian woman with whom Davila grew up as a child in Chile. The stories Carmen Gallardo’s mother told Davila were nurturing threads, myths from his childhood. She said to him, ‘I’ll talk to you but you have to believe’. More recently, Gallardo asked him to tell the story of the crossing, the mingling of two families, two cultures. We see this story told through scenes of the Wagnerian Opera cycle, moments painted in emotive and epic proportion, a cinematic realism of mythical time. Davila describes how discovering the conjunction of these two forms, “the revelation of the parallel between early myths in the European tradition and the Mapuche people, opened a space for me.” That space, which this series both constructs and conveys, is an interface between myth and the bare presence of life.

Dr Kate Briggs

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