Where are the Heirs of these Forms?
DE SINGEL, Antwerp
25 September – 30 October 2022

The show tells the story of hair through its anthropological connotations, starting from the artist’s Afro-Arab and indigenous ancestry. Imagined by Chaile as ‘line-drawings that sprout on the head,’ hair takes on sculptural possibilities which are amplified through cutting and styling. As a medium that changes and adapts over time, hair and its diverse types also allude to the processes of miscegenation following the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

At the center of the exhibition, which includes all new works, is this sculptural self-portrait, that faces a hanging plow looking like a comb or a mosquito that pretends to enter the earthen sculpture, giving rise to a magical scene. A series of charcoal and pastel drawings refers to the movement of lines and volumes that animate hair taken from people of different cultural backgrounds. The question in the exhibition title Where are the Heirs of these Forms? is referring to the shape of a being that mutates through several stages, from resistance to resistance, and from struggle to struggle.

Gabriel Chaile uses simple and symbolic materials for his sculptural works, such as his large-scale anthropomorphic clay ovens, which imbue them with a strong spiritual aura. Chaile explains, ” In addition to academic education, I was influenced by religious education, and the idea of the “miraculous,” to demand much more from materials than they can offer. My work is also related to the resistance and Peronist history of my family, their struggle, the magical aspect of the miraculous and the environment of poverty. That is why I return to the primitive forms of indigenous morphology.”

Photos by Jan Kempenaers