Amo a la Reina | Kersgallery | Amsterdam | 2021
Raquel Van Haver’s work is driven by a desire to connect, its spirit of togetherness, lending itself to people, communities and on a monumental level, transcontinental dialogue. In returning to Colombia, where she was born, Van Haver’s investment in her native country, its people, culture and ancient mythologies, sees her practice eclipse an individual pursuit for knowledge and belonging, becoming a living archive of Colombia’s extraordinary communities. Resisting genres, Van Haver reimagines the field of documentary on her own terms, her approach instilled with an inclusivity and expansiveness, elevating often unheard and unseen voices.
“Amo a la reina”, translated as “I love the queen”, pays homage to the women Van Haver has met on her travels, many of whom were social leaders enacting huge change in their communities, at times, endangering their own lives in a quest to do so. Made significant not only by the stories, characters and experiences that make up this compelling narrative, the series is also a poignant breakthrough in Van Haver’s own artistic practice. A conscious move away from painting as a monolithic medium, to an interdisciplinary embrace. Spanning painting, architecture, film and collage, “Amo a la reina” is a powerful testament to the artist’s aptitude for experimentation, seamlessly blending her practice with the stories of her muses, collaborators, friends and acquaintances. In its intricate depiction of everyday life, the viewer is unable to discern where stories end and artistic autonomy begins. The blurring of real life, a product of Van Haver’s genuine connection to her subjects. Branching into new mediums, this ambitious vein in Van Haver’s expression is dynamic, all-consuming in its constant pursuit of new possibilities to embolden and enrich the conversation around the themes and issues she is grappling with. The incorporation of different mediums then becomes the next iteration of the artist’s signature impasto. Looking back on Van Haver’s muralist paintings, made three dimensional by thick oil paint and found materials, “Amo a la reina’s” architectural structures built from brick, films illuminated by singing and layered collages construct a new kind of bricolaged impasto, one without limits.
History is uprooted by Van Haver in this series, postcolonial realities, gendered social issues and mythological tales displayed in the artist's own loud artistic vocabulary. The excavation of identity at the heart of this series, becomes a desperate bid to reclaim a people’s history, one not dictated by the coloniser, but told instead by the marginalised. In its intuitive telling, Van Haver’s work is led by a sense of legacy and an unerring altruism, that sees her own voice as one of many, enmeshed into a powerful narrative of Colombia today.
Words by Lauren Gee