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Craftsmanship meets artistic refinement in Guillermo Grez’s works to the extent that they emerge from a motivation that is circumscribed by his own humble means. His work is the product of instinct and inner need that is manifested with both desperation and calm, as if meant to withstand loneliness and the passage of time. His awareness of an irremediable future, and of art as a form of resistance by way of leaving a mark, is a common thread in his work.


The bucolic and solitary Grez, after an extensive self-transformation that he undertook upon his arrival in Chiloé decades ago, produces a multifaceted art that seems like a bountiful harvest. Self-taught more by temperament than choice, Grez has developed his art out of a deeply ingrained need to retain and interpret the details of a life-spanning metaphysical journey. Among other sources for his work is a daily practice of contemplation that has helped him generate an immense vocabulary of symbolic characters and iconic structures, all of which he weaves into an intricate narrative of desire, wonder, and bliss.

Because he changes materials and techniques little apparent effort, a visit to Grez’s studio includes an unexpected variety of imagery in the form of paintings, drawings, and collages. They can also be found in the luxurious ceremonial garments or his intimately assembled reliefs in cardboard or wood. This can make it difficult to characterize Grez's art using conventional descriptions of medium, form, and content. By his own description, the things he made with his hands oscillated for years between craft and fine art.



Today, the first thing many viewers notice in his work is the originality of a precise and delirious handiwork. At times Grez's sensibility resembles that of a miniaturist, with a dash of magical realism. Within his larger works we perceive a dynamic tension that swings between the densely intertwined details of materials and textures, and the multi-layered composition that opens up multiple worlds.


Firm in his initial decision that his Chilote life should follow the speculative interior trajectory of an artist, today the art of Guillermo Grez springs directly from the inspiration he draws from his adoptive home. Like so many expats throughout human history, Grez never sought to be adopted by Chiloé, but instead he pays continual homage to its people, their culture, history, secrets, wisdom, and myths. In his own way, Grez has dedicated his imagination to the study of his own inner life, which in turn is populated by glimpses of an everyday reality that reverberates with something unmistakably and mysteriously Chilote.

text byDan Cameron and Ramon Castillo

Text by Dan Cameron and Ramón Castillo

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