Heliconia Projects | A Nomadic Gallery Promoting Latin Voices

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About Heliconia Projects

Heliconia Projects, a new art platform founded by Nicole Bainov and Elsa Maldonaldo-Buitron, has started promoting artists and bridging the Dominican Republic to the world of collectors, curators, and galleries.

Nominally, Heliconia Projects is an art platform, which is a blanket term, but adequate for characterizing Maldonaldo-Buitron and Bainov’s practice. The key to their policy is to remove sterile aspects of the art exhibition, replacing a typical gallery program with a series of crafted pop-up shows that connect carefully curated art with unique, atypical venues and their communities. It gives even more relevance to the presented artworks. With the new ways that the contemporary world offers in terms of art presentation and getting new audiences, we prefer to act quickly, without necessarily minimizing ourselves or collaborating artists to just one formula, Elsa Maldonaldo-Buitron explains.

A signature of the Heliconia Project is the ability to act with respect for art legacies and existing institutions while proposing a new, mindfully disruptive approach.

 

They named their platform after the flower Heliconia, which today is a typical Caribbean plant. Seven thousand years ago, however, it was a Greek flower named after Mount Helicon, the home of Apollo and the muses. According to Maldonaldo-Buitron, On some level, the Heliconia Project is simply an emotional, passionate answer to art we fell in love with. Nicole and I are Venezuelan, and we were both raised in admiration for art. My family is directly connected to art collecting and I was fortunate to grow up with incredible kinetic and geometric art around.Bainov adds, Some of the early art presence in my life was Christo, who was Bulgarian and one of my aunt’s best friends. The first piece of artwork I owned was a gift from him, a very small drawing of Christo’s. Later, it led to working at institutions such as Saatchi Gallery, galleries as Simon Lee and Nicoletti Gallery.

What also distinguishes Heliconia Projects among new art endeavors is a combination of their physical and digital presence. Aside from their carefully curated pop-up shows, Maldonaldo-Buitron and Bainov provide a lens for looking at the art world through social media. They report Latin and American art fairs, feature gallery shows in the region, and introduce artists. Knowledge is open and needs to be widespread. This is just an extension of theirlet’s give the spotlight to the underrepresentedpolicy.

Working also as art advisors, they are used to monitoring the markets efficiently, fishing out myriads of interesting voices. Their digital snapshots are agile and quick, grasping the changing pulse of what is best and relevant. We do our thing, freshly. We don’t want to compete with the establishment, Dominican maestros, or Dominican galleries. We choose our paths, says Bainov.

“Our main goal is to get Dominican artists out of the region and give them the International representation. Then, to expand the local art scene by showing artists from outside the country.

Maldonaldo-Buitron and Bainov plan to bring a foreign voice to the island, circling the topics of underrepresentation and minorities. Furthermore, they plan to show the Dominican artists at one of the worldwide art events.

 

About ‘Scenes and Revelations’ by Brittany Fanning

The first show, Brittany Fanning’s Scenes and Revelations, was presented in January 2024 in Casa de Campo.

The darkish space of a luxurious, cabaña-vibe room is opposed only by a couple of lights. It feels eerie and theatrical here, in the Casa de Campo Country Club, which has been transformed into an art venue for one night. It’s a truly perfect setting for the art of Brittany Fanning, an LA artist who specializes in mixing depictions of leisure with danger, lurking somewhere in the back of the image. Fanning’s impasto oil-on-canvas paintings bring to life a full menagerie: alligators, ocelots, pumas, and human figures that appear to be studiously ignoring the coming catastrophe. All of this is set in a resort-like architectural background that seems generic yet oddly familiar.  This isScenes and Revelations,the first show of Heliconia Projects, a nomadic gallery that was launched in January 2024 by Nicole Bainov and Elsa Maldonaldo-Buitron in the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic. Bringing a new approach to the formula of an art show, introducing new artists to the region, and making the local art scene vibrant, relevant, and present, in the world–from the outset, Heliconia Projects makes a strong statement.

 

Heliconia Projects co-founder, Maldonaldo-Buitron, says that the goal is to present art in a different, non-ordinary way: We operate on a base of dialogue with communities and existing cultural frameworks–mindfully, respectfully, and supportive of the Dominican Republic, where we live, but always delivering something fresh that has never been seen around here.

Nicole Bainov, the other founder of Heliconia Projects, explains that the art of Brittany Fanning, an American artist from Florida who now lives in California, felt familiar and relatable to the Dominican audience. Moreover, it was a unique, first-hand introduction to the oeuvre of a celebrated artist just a couple of months before her London presentation.

“We are happy that we could launch our project with this show. Bainov continues, I do not hesitate to say that we are a voice of the underrepresented: we fill a certain gap, make room for the art that hasn’t been shown in the context we propose.”

 

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