Antonia Bañados (Santiago, 1990) is a Chilean visual artist and comic author that works over a wide range of medias as painting, object making, moving image and site specific, among others.
Bañados firstly studied a BA in Visual Arts (with First Class Honours) at the PUC in Santiago of Chile for then in 2014 moving to Scotland to study a master in Contemporary Art Practice at the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2016 (awarded with Distinction). Just after finishing her studies Bañados moved to Berlin, Germany, for a three months residency exploring the relation between fabricated volumes and their absorption into natural landscape, and currently she’s living in Granada, Spain, to learn the process of fabrication and restoration of islamic architecture’s ornaments.
She has exhibited her work collectively and individually in Chile, the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, among others.
She was awarded with Jackson’s Young Artist Prize at the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2016 (Bankside Gallery, London) and selected as one of the four artists for Platform: 2015, the first programme for early career artists at Edinburgh Art Festival (the biggest art festival in the UK). Among her projects, it’s worth mention the video and installation ‘New Lands’, composed by a living ecosystem inside of a fish tank, containing lighted glass pieces, plants and water to construct an architectural habitad to host a Mexican amphibian.
In 2019 Bañados obtained the National Fund of the Book-Creation Graphic Narrative (Chilean Culture Minister) for developing the graphic novel “Behind the Glowing Glass”. During 2020 she obtained the same fund for making a graphic novel about the naturalist Claude Gay in collaboration with Ignacio Concha, and got selected in the art residence La Maison des Auteurs in Angoulême. Antonia has collaborated with independent comic publications as Revista Brígida (Chile), Revista Ñachi (Chile), Campfire (EEUU) and Instituciones Violentas (Chile).
A young artist travels to an art school in Scotland, where she starts the creation of an ambitious work: a futuristic installation inside an aquarium inhabited by an axolotl, a small Mexican amphibian who she calls Charlie.
Gradually Charlie takes an unexpected role for her. She feels that he is watching and judging her while floating in this world of luminous and transparent pieces. This becomes a frustrating obsession reinforced by comments from her peers and teachers, who question the ethics of having a living being as part of an art installation.
Her concern manifests in the shape of recurring nightmares where she kills Charlie by accident. The stronger this emotional bond becomes, the closer the date of return to her home country, and therefore, the separation from Charlie and the time of undoing everything that she worked so hard to build.
Thus, she questions with what delusions of superiority she came to feel capable of creating a universe and believing that she could dispose of the life of another being for the creation of her own work, exposing him faraway from his land, completely alone.
Even though at the end she achieves her initial goal, her view of the art world and her life choices both get transformed.
This autobiographical work shows from an insider point of view the creative process of making an artwork, the dynamics between art students, their fears and ambitions, and the contradictions of the art world. Visually there is a high emphasis in the architecture, the city and the spaces in which the story takes place.