Expats – have you ever cast a glance at the Tuscan landscape and felt as though you weren’t in Italy, but somewhere else you’ve been before?

Last Friday, May 15, a group of 5 Colombian expats living in Florence shared their reflections of home and cross-cultural fusion in the opening of “Poetiche Presenti, dalla Colombia alla Toscana,” an exhibition curated by Hugo Cardenas at Simultanea Spazi D’Arte (via San Zanobi 45 red).

Colombian Contemporary Art Florence Italy

Impressions of distant Colombian landscapes, oceans and emotional experiences recreated using classical techniques graced white walls and intrigued visitors who entered the gallery. The exhibition’s title, “Poetiche Presenti,” means “Poetic Presence.” Each piece expresses the personal story of a Colombian with a Tuscan twist: Diego Caicedo, Fernardo Cardenas, Isnardo Cardozo, Ana Margarita Fontalvo and Sofia Zuluaga.

Cardenas wasn’t always sure if other Colombians lived in Florence. “A Colombian artist (in Florence) is something strange,” says Cardenas, who is from Bogotá.

The Florentine representative of the Colombian Consulate was among the curious who gathered at the opening. According to Cardenas, the Consulate was impressed by what the Colombian people of Florence have accomplished and delivered a diplomatic reaction.

Another Florentine who was viewing the works told Cardenas that she “could see the poet.”

“The Florentines can open doors with the Colombian people,” Cardenas says.

Colombian Contemporary Art Florence Italy

The featured artists have kept an intimate relationship with the Renaissance city for 10 to 20 years. Many of them relocated because they didn’t prefer the Colombian contemporary art scene and they wanted to learn classical techniques.

“In Colombia we break the rules. We make something different,” Cardenas says. In Florence, artists can express modern perspectives using classical techniques and call it “contemporary.”

“I began to understand why they chose this city,” he says. “We saw it as the mecca and the great city of art… They feel peace here.”

Cardenas, who is also an expat artist, decided to perceive the curatorial project as an outreach investigation of others in his community. He received his Master in Painting and Drawing from the Accademia Riaci in 2013 and his work has been exhibited in Italy and Colombia. Expressive, mysterious, and embedded in rich emptiness, his black and white graphite drawings capture a subject with precise force and narrate his own biography of cross-cultural experiences.

Jenna Millemaci