Elian Chali: Unexpected Plane

Good. We have a wall;

now we need to look at it,

and imagine the house.

Fabio Morábito

Walls rise up from the ground; they’re the faces of a large body, providing support and shelter
from the elements. They also serve as borders between outside and in, ones that enclose time
in their layers, storing memories of the public, social and political life of a community. Walls both
new and ancient, thin and thick, are surfaces with a face and profile, realities not devoid of
mystery. They always contain the possibility that a new dimension might suddenly appear
before us.

Having been invited by the Museo Moderno to re-conceive the façade of its main building, the
Argentine artist Elián Chali (Córdoba, 1988) suggested a mural and, surprisingly, a new space
emerges for the museum. Red, yellow and green waves flow across the 330 square metre area
to open up an unexpected plane that, interestingly, was always there. With his distinctive
combination of geometric imagery, minimal design and primary colours, this brilliant artist shines
a new light on a surface that had been in shadow.

Chali’s art sets out to transform historical buildings, exploring their vitality and vigour. His
practice draws on the tradition of urban art such as graffiti, which shapes his need to visually
express rebellion against authority and undermine the official narratives that are often embodied
by the walls of public buildings. His works seek to interrupt linear time, shaking up the apparent
stability of constructions that only seem to grow more solid with each passing year. To do so,
the artist employs an innocent, festive aesthetic that ensures that its political aspects don’t fall in
the traditional canon of graphic protest. He takes his unique technique from city to city, providing
experiences on the monumental scale, creating planes, reflections and reverberations that
envelop bodies and things. The enormous scale of his artworks is a manifestation of his urgent
need to challenge urban icons and thus the dominant voices of cities. Chali questions
relationships of power by freeing up architectural narratives, especially those so rigid that they
are in danger of excluding our community experience. With Chali, the Museo Moderno building
is temporarily changing its most visible profile and, in these difficult times, opens itself up to the
San Telmo neighbourhood, expanding its role in society. The artist is looking to soften
boundaries, facilitate coming together and celebrate playfulness. It may be his way of offering
succour.

In his different areas of activity, streets, walls, institutions and disca activism – which
encompasses an inclusive range of identities, corporalities and abilities – Chali rebels against

the established order of sensibility. Along the way he has made audacious choices about
resources that amplify his works’ strength, urgency and conviction. Like a tide of energy,
primary colours explode, making everything around them tremble: abstraction softens planes,
geometry channels the flow. Chali’s work defies the gravity of contemporary issues and reminds
us that art can unlock the vital impetus we need to restore trust in institutions and communities.
Unexpected Plane, at the Museo Moderno, is an invitation to imagine vibrant cities where ways
of being in and sharing public space are distributed more generously.

Curated by Carla Barbero

Elián Chali (Córdoba, 1988) is an artist and disca activist. He has held numerous solo exhibitions and been part of over a dozen group shows. His works have featured in the public space of over 30 towns and cities in a range of countries including Germany, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, the USA, France, the UK, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uruguay. He is founder and co-director of Kosovo Gallery (2012-2015, Córdoba), coordinated PUENTE Arte/Espacio Público (2013, Córdoba), was head curator of MAC Feria de Arte Contemporáneo (2018, Córdoba) and has taken part in several round tables and conferences across the world. In 2016, he published his first book, Hábitat, and his work is documented in many different publications and publishing projects related to art, design and architecture. As an activist in a collective of people with disabilities, he is part of Torceduras & Bifurcaciones, a forum of political corporalities