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helio TM is a group exhibition of Mexican artists who have employed the use of traditional heliogravure in their practice. Dating back to the 19th century, heliogravure is a photographic printing process where a copper plate is exposed to a film-positive, then etched, and run through a traditional printing press that leaves an image on paper.

As technology and access rapidly increased — particularly the speed of silver-gelatin printing and consistently evolving smartphone technology of the 21st century — heliogravure began to lose popularity, becoming an antiquated and somewhat obsolete process. However, heliogravure has seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly in Mexico City as the workshop of artist and photographer Miguel Counahan has operated as a collaborative space for artists to learn the medium and process and apply it to their own work.

Curated by Leslie Moody Castro for the Venice Art Factory, helio TM is an exhibition of work by artists selected to visually interpret the sojourn of a Stoic — a narrative journey of the artist Miguel Counahan himself. It also illustrates the physical process of heliogravure itself through a selection of images, copper plates, positives, and tests done by all the artists who have passed through the studio, El Taller de Mike.

Participating artists in helio TM include Mike Counahan, Eunice Adorno, Silvana Agostoni, Tomás Casademunt, Fernando Etulain, Guillermo Espinosa, Gerardo González, Pilar Goutas, Tamara Goutas, Fernanda de Icaza, Magali Lara, Carlos Iván Hernandez, Andrea Martínez, Rafael Martinez, Fabiola Menchelli, Alejandro Pintado, Jorge Rosano, Carla Rippey, Uriel Salas, Miguel Angel Salazar, Martin Soto Climent, Laureana Toledo, Yvonne Venegas, Mariana Yazbek and Sergio Yazbek.

Mike Counahan, Altiplano, 2022. Heliogravure, 30 x 31 cm.
Fabiola Menchelli, Ocular, 2021-2022. Ink on copper, 38 x 49 cm.

I — Departure

The sun rose high, illuminating the mountains, the contrast of the plain. The leaping rays of oranges and yellows danced across the stillness of the panorama. The light stretched across its limit, then further into the places long left dormant, only visited by the explorers and adventurers who once sought great quests within the power to disappear. The sun kept rising. The world kept spinning, and time kept passing, as it does. The limits of memory were reached and spread across a faraway land, until routes and footsteps were retraced, thus reviving forgetfulness. The sun became witness to a quest of remembering, a summons to the distant lands lost in time and place for reasons yet to be discovered.

Carla Rippey, Sábado de la Gloria (Burning of the Judas), 2022. Heliogravure. Image: 35 x 50 cm; Plate: 11 x 8 cm
Carla Rippey, Sábado de la Gloria (Burning of the Judas), 2022. Heliogravure. Image: 35 x 50 cm; Plate: 11 x 8 cm
Gerardo González Fernández, Punta Norte, 2022. Heliogravure, 23 x 23 cm.
Rafael Martínez, Tensión 1, 2021. Heliogravure and gold leaf, 29 x 32.5 cm
Eunice Adorno, Piedras en Tetzotzinco, 2022. Heliogravure, 35 x 34 cm.

II — Initiation

There is no limit to the landscape. It hypnotizes beyond its flat plains that melt into crystal, reflective oceans that mirror the light across mountainous glaciers. Is simply forgetting a transformation, like the transition between seasons, like rainfall from which springs flora, or the fires that replenish vigor into the land? Does the journey to the end of the earth mean a return to the beginning? Imagine the ash that explodes from the volcano, settling quietly and violently across the landscape, turning daytime into perpetual night. The volcano now lies dormant, collateral of the shifting earth and its whims. What was once an ocean is now a mountain, and who was once a wanderer is now capable of seeing the imaginary lines and borders between elements and future constellations.

Andrea Martínez, La curvatura de la tierra, 2022. Heliogravure, 40 x 49 cm
Alejandro Pintado, Conexiones en flujo, 2022. Heliogravure, graphite, and acrylic on raw linen, 50 x 70 cm
Uriel Salas, From the series Unificados, 2021. Heliogravure. Image: 47 x 39.5 cm; Plate: 35 x 29 cm
Yvonne Venegas, Self Portrait in Mask 2 (To Erwin Blumenfeld), 2020. Heliogravure on cotton paper. Image: 48 x 50 cm; Plate: 66 x 60 cm
Jorge Rosano Gamboa, Colisión de cuerpos, 2020. Heliogravure on rice paper, 30 x 15 cm
Pilar Goutas, Serie Zapata, 2022. Heliogravure, 27 x 20 cm.

III — Return

The loss of the certainty of time follows any great quest, and the freedom to traverse divisions of the world an even greater virtue. The immensity of a glacier in constant movement, the monotony of distances, and the impossibility of capturing temporality blend the future with the past, the past with the present. Time will become obsolete when the landscape is the sole observer, and a memory a future souvenir when the wind traces the most beautiful line one will ever witness. The return will not be as easy as the departure. The sunrises will never flow the way they did before the quest. In this future, they are seen with adjusted eyes, a new light that causes new reflections. The future will be a return to the place where the sojourn began, only the change will be in the ways that the stoic forever reads the light.


Venice Art Factory, SPACE DD47, Fondamenta Zattere Ai Saloni 47, Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy

October 22nd – November 29th, 2022

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