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Not long after Francisco Copello passed away in 2006, the gallerist Paul Birke called Juan Yarur and invited him to come and see Copello’s work. I was lucky enough to be with them that day. I vividly remember walking into the room where all Copello’s work was kept with Juan and Bernardita Mandiola, the Director of Fundación AMA. Seeing the extraordinary body of work, one could feel the tension between life and death. Juan knew instantly that he wanted to preserve the work. I think he actually shared that feeling of essential and urgent creative impulse.
Over a decade later it is a pleasure to work with Juan and Bernardita in presenting this work to an international audience outside of Chile. This exhibition could not have been possible without Juan Yarur.
I had the honour of starting Juan’s contemporary art collection. It was an extraordinary journey of youth and discovery. Juan was only twenty years old when it all began. We set out a plan that would resonate with his taste, interest and aesthetic pulsations. As the years progressed, the learning incremented and the collection changed. Juan grew and by his late twenties he had amassed one of the most impressive collections of contemporary international art in Chile. In tandem with the collection, we started the Beca AMA, a grant for Chilean artists to participate in international residencies, such as at Gasworks in London. This grant meant quality time dedicated to the process of art thinking and production for Chilean artists. The grant continues to define most of the artists careers as a before and after. With this serious evolution of events, the Foundation took a new turn, now with Bernardita Mandiola at its helm as Director. She has been able to expand the collection and the mission of the Foundation to create an international network for artists, curators and art historians by creating a partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles.
Bringing a collector and a gallerist together to promote an artist is a very important way of collaborating. Even though I am a curator turned gallerist, and our relationship goes back decades, it is important to work together in order to bring art, and especially lesser known artists, to a wider public. This kind of joint enterprise will help us propel Copello’s work into the future.
The most important aim in undertaking this exhibition is to bring inspiration and excitement about Francisco Copello’s work. This is achieved by way of showing the thought-provoking, surprising and challenging work. I believe that to exhibit, collect and promote challenging works of art is a goal that both Juan and I have wholeheartedly shared, and continue to do so, in this long journey of work and friendship.
Cecilia Brunson Projects