Everyday and Popular Imagery in the Prints of Lorena Villablanca

Lorena Villablanca, Las Conquistadoras (1995), woodcut, 70 x 70 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Lorena Villablanca, Las Conquistadoras (1995), woodcut, 70 x 70 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Stories are voices, fragments of life experiences that are reflected in these accounts.

—Álvaro Bisama

The woodcuts of Lorena Villablanca are intuitive, yet unified by certain technical and narrative principles. These have provided a scaffold for the overlapping thematic cycles and visual narratives of her artistic trajectory.

A member of the generation that came of age during Chile’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy, Villablanca is a prominent figure in Chilean art. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, many of her peers at the School of Art of the Pontifical Catholic University chose to pursue conceptual practices or to investigate the language of photography, but Villablanca turned to woodcut. Over the intervening decades she has continued to exploit the medium’s distinct formal properties, its expressive charge and its connections to popular literary and visual traditions. Through it she has built a vast repertoire of fantastic beings, a cast of characters that articulate the quest for local identity within a global reality.

Villablanca does not use woodcut to create formal editions—the inking and printing are as singular and expressive as painting—and she will frequently reuse blocks in new images, building on and altering what came before. Her final works are both unique objects and members within a long series of working proofs.

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