August 2023

Guillermo Aranda-Mena

Guillermo Aranda-Mena was born in Mexico City 50 years ago and since, he has lived in, or deeply experienced, locations across 5 continents. In preparing for this exhibition, he travelled 50 years back in time depicting memorable locations close to his hart, whether towns, cities, landscapes, or regional representations, thus the title of this art exhibition: VOYAGE_50505, a tour in time and space. Originally trained as an architect in his native country, Guillermo applies his artistic drawing and sketching skills in his designs, teaching and academic endeavours in Milan, Mantova, Hong Kong for over 10 years and Melbourne and Singapore for nearly two decades. He lives in St. Kilda with his partner Dee and son Memo, he calls Australia home.

“I am turning 50 and have been very fortunate to have experienced the world in a unique way. I titled this exhibition Voyage as an evocation of the amazing journeys of Jules Verne, Voyage Extraordinaires. I believe it has taken me 50 years to prepare for this exhibition and for it I have created a series of 50 watercolours (in A3 landscape format, framed in white, 400mmx500mm) with one concept in mind, my personal journey, each painting has been an opportunity to re-visit meaningful places, one for each year of my existence since 1973. Each watercolour depicts a memorable environment, either a location, building or landscape. For this exhibit I have relied purely on my memories and personal references such as sketch books, visual notes, and my family photo albums, especially for the early years. In some cases, I used my imagination and depicted abstract representations of places such as the Mexican pyramids, including the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, the former capital of the Aztecs, now Mexico City, my city of birth. Other locations include towns and landscapes from across the globe, from my first impressions of New York to the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona as a young architecture student; from Esbjerg in Denmark to Delft in the Netherlands for my academic placements; from Hong Kong to Mantova in Italy where I teach; from Fiji to Hoi An Vietnam where I have built, only to mention a few of my depicted locations, each experienced in a meaningful way.

This exhibition has brought my scattered mind and displaced existence into a halt, it is now all recollected and coherently hosted by a single space, the gallery space and until all dissipates again in a few days’ time. Preparing for this event has certainly been a time travel and geographic journey like no other one. This exhibition has provided me with an opportunity to return to places and people, to think and reflect on life, it has brought me into a state of Zen and helped me to revisit distant memories, some nearly forgotten. Revisiting 50 years has been a true joy. Voyage 50505 has been a fantastic journey and I want to share it with you old or new friend. Each painting has a unique QR identifier which links to a full online description, and in which you are also welcome to leave me a comment. Overall, this exhibition is a celebration to existence, and a tribute to the people and places that make the rich fabric of our planet. As Luis Barragan famously said, “no hagan lo que yo hice, vean lo que yo vi” don’t do what I did, see what I have seen, in an attempt to inspire young architects and creatives to be original as to inspire learning through travel, learnings to better our world. Travel has been one constant in my life and thus I hope you come on board VOYAGE_50505.”