La vigilia [The Vigil]
299.7 cm x 597.6 cm x 25.4 cm (118 in. x 235 1/4 in. x 10 in.)
(Santiago, Chile, 1963 - )
Latin America, Chilean
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas (72 paintings) on wooden shelves
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of the artist, 2005
In the 72 paintings comprising La vigilia, 12 different aluminum pots and pans are shown, full scale, against a plain background and from six different angles. The vantage point from which each object is seen, emphasized by the shadow it casts, correlates precisely to the painting’s location within the grid of wooden shelves. Guilisasti’s attention to how perspective within the artwork corresponds to the viewer’s point of view heightens the trompe l’oeil effect of these realistically rendered still lifes. Emphasizing simulation, repetition, and variation, the paintings invite thought and contemplation.
The work exudes qualities such as quiet and stillness that are associated with vigils in the United States. In Chile, the artist’s homeland, a common form of peaceful protest is the cacerolazo, a noisy citywide demonstration during which citizens bang pots and pans within their homes to express their discontent. This form of protest emerged as early as the 1970s and occurred frequently in the early 1980s during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Thus, while this work can be appreciated solely on the basis of form and technique, or as an elegant elevation of the simple and everyday, it can also be seen within the context of Chilean society as a call for action and a demand for change.