Juana Gómez » Distaff

2 November – 22 December 2017

Michael Hoppen Gallery

3 Jubilee Place, London, SW3 3TD



“We are so addicted to patterns that we let them sneak into almost everything we do. Moreover, these patterns are the key to predicting many aspects of our behavior, even the darkest parts of our nature. “

Chilean artist Juana Gómez’s hand embroidered photographic canvases combine the spheres of scientific exploration with ancestral tradition. Weaving complex scientific and mythological patterns onto images of both her own and her daughters’ bodies, her work is interested in placing mankind within a broader context of interconnectivity. Rather than seeing us as individuals, dethatched from one another and the world around us, Gómez positions us as part of an ancient chain that goes back to the origin of life: a combination of patterns, molecules and small organisms.

The word “Distaff” defines both the matrilineal branch of a family, and also the ‘domestic life,’ describing a tool that bears the same name used for manually spinning fleece. Both meanings are relevant to Gómez’s work, as she utilises weaving and embroidery to explore the themes of genealogy, mythology and biology within her own female lineage. An art form customarily inherited through the matriarchal line, spinning or weaving, was traditionally passed from mother to daughter.

Images of Gómez and her daughter Julieta populate the exhibition, along with the hands of four generations of their female line. The embroidery encompassing their bodies creates a link between them that is both physical and symbolic, telling of blood ties and the passing of time.

Elsewhere, Julieta and Juana are embroidered with extraordinary labyrinths of nervous systems, silver threaded organs, bacteria, and the symbols found on traditional Latin American textiles. Unified in tissues and cells, by their heritage, by the air they breathe and the blood that passes just a few millimeters below the skin; Gómez highlights the unseen elements that unite generations, families, civilisations; and also humans, and animals with the earth.

Distaff is the first solo exhibition by Chilean artist Juana Gómez at Michael Hoppen Gallery, and takes place in conjunction with Isabel Croxatto Gallery in Santiago.


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