Established in the wake of the White Cube’s move to Bermondsey – an area just south of the river that bisects the city of London – Cecilia Brunson Projects sets itself apart from the cool, cold aesthetic of 90’s commercialism. A pioneer in her field, Cecilia Brunson is a Curator of Latin American art, and an advocate of greater visibility for the art and artists of the region.

A Chilean native, Brunson’s breadth and depth of knowledge is complimented by that of the other members of her four-person team – each of whom has a specialism in the art of Latin America. This level of expertise enables lively and informed conversations – which are as much a part of the gallery’s mission as what is hanging on its walls. Foregrounding dialogue, history and personal connections, the gallery operates in the same vein as the 19th century salons -and in opposition to the ubiquitous clinical white cubes.

The gallery is on a domestic scale, complete with a small courtyard with seating that flanks the sides, and plant life that tumbles and climbs across its white-washed walls. An intimate one-story building, there are two distinct galleries – a small room to the left, the larger to the right. Focusing on 20th Century and contemporary art from Latin America, Brunson exhibits work from the Modernist period onwards – and, in this part of the world, Modernism is closely intertwined with post-colonialism, and so each of the artists grapples with ideas of the indigenous, the colonized and the contemporary.

An overview of the Brazilian painter Katie Van Scherpenberg (b.1940) shimmers with originality and a sense of the profound. A chilling reminder of how art and politics intersect in dangerous and precarious ways across Latin America, Van Scherpenberg’s occupation as an artist has shaped both her lifestyle and her artistic output.

Escaping an increasingly heated political climate in the late 1960s, Van Scherpenberg moved to a remote island in the delta of the Amazon river, where she worked in isolation, in collaboration with only the natural world. Her first UK exhibition ‘Overlooking the Amazon’ came together as a result of the artist’s renewed fears regarding the safety of her body of work under Brazil’s current rightwing leader, Jair Bolsonaro – and so the gallery turned guardian, safeguarding the work from present-day political extremism.


Brunson uses her curatorial connections to forge new links, creating newly expanded histories. Pulling those from the margins into the centre, Brunson inserts Latin American art within the canon of western Art History. As a Curator she has a significant, personal and academic understanding of the region, which enables her to truly explore and discover, without the prejudices or predictability of those with a lesser command of the subject.

Some of the gallery artists are well known in the world of contemporary art – José Leonilson and Mira Schendel, for example – however, many are working, “at the margins of the margin”, such as Feliciano Centurión. The focus of Cecilia Brunson Projects presentation at the 2021 edition of Frieze Masters, Centurión (1962-96) was born in Paraguay – a gay man who worked with found textiles and embroidery throughout the 1990s. Tender, lively and charming, his work speaks as much to the politics of modern-day Latin America as it did the politics of his own time.

Geographically decentralised – and outside of the western network of artists, galleries, museums and institutions – Latin American artists have a notably more relaxed attitude to their work. Approached without fuss, these works are not handled, stored or archived in the same manner as Western art, and so they acquire the markings of a life well lived: edges are torn and folded, ripples can be detected, and surfaces take on a yellow hue – an aged patina.

Adding to their character, elements of domestic life also creep into Latin American art – part aesthetic choice, and part necessity. Limited access requires a more resourceful response, and so the artists used bed sheets and blankets, scraps and second-hand materials. Painters often made their own stretchers, giving their work a sculptural quality that is best appreciated in the round. The climate of the Latin American countries is another factor that contributes to the look and feel of its art; the heat and humidity interacts with surfaces and materials, causing entropy to occur at a faster rate.

All art is made in a particular moment in history, politics, poverty, abundance, right wing, left wing – and each artist builds upon the work of the previous generations. The art world is familiar with the plot points of Western history, and Cecilia Brunson Projects is working to expand this knowledge further west to include the countries of Latin America within the grand narrative.


Sitting outside in the garden with the gallery’s Director, I am reminded of the power of storytelling and dialogue. The importance of shared wisdom and information is fundamental and impactful – folkloric, even – and the connections and conversations that are at the heart of Cecilia Brunson’s mission mirror the finest qualities of Latin American art: approachable, intimate, warm.


My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.