Cuerpos Pintados is a unique project that marries the concerns of painting, performance art, documentation and photography. In the last 25 years more than 100 painters and countless models have participated in a rich interactive dialog exploring the potential of the body as both a landscape and a three dimensional canvas. The preliminary 45 painters were from Chile, as the studio is located in Santiago; however, soon painters from all over South America, Europe and the United States wanted an opportunity to work collaboratively at Taller Cuerpos Pintados. Roberto Edwards’s photographs have been exhibited in over 40 museums throughout the world and have intrigued, fascinated, and amazed viewers. His photographs are accurate records of an organic project that has endless variations and morphs into an amazingly productive exploration of the expressive power of the body. To his surprise, art lovers young and old were thrilled and challenged by this visionary project.
Watching Roberto Edwards photograph is like watching a drama unfold, but one that has no linear narrative. Initially the actions are directed by Roberto, but invariably the models start to move and strike a myriad of poses on their own which derive from an almost dance – like ritual. When Roberto photographs he never corrects or changes the original painting, but uses tools like cropping, changing focus, and compressing space through depth of field and f-stop selection. He also has the cinematic equivalents of long shot, medium shot, and close up at his disposal. Sometimes he builds images through multiple exposures and montaging. Under the heat of the lights of the studio, the movements of the models activates their skin and the paint starts change as their bodies starts to absorb pigment. The paint smudges and the borders blend as the body sweats. All of this is recorded as another variable in the process of documenting the performance of the model.
Roberto Edwards born in 1937 is a Chilean photographer and entrepreneur. After partial studies of architecture, economics, and film, he began in the publishing business, producing numerous books and magazines. During the 1980s, he began Cuerpos Pintados and in 1991, the project was presented for the first time, with Edwards’s photographs of the nude bodies painted by 45 Chilean artists. The resulting exhibition traveled to thirty-two museums in Latin America and Europe. In 2003, he presented a new version of Cuerpos Pintados. This time, more than one hundred visual artists, mainly from Latin America, participated in the project, as well as musicians who composed their scores with body sounds and photographers who documented the body in a wide variety of traditional cultures. Through Fundación América, which he presides, Edwards has also supported the development of activities dedicated to social integration though the arts, such as the IntegrArte program, which in 2002 produced an exhibition called Pa’ que veái, with paintings, sculptures and photographs produced by the blind. Recently, he is mainly focused on Fundación América’s activities, curating exhibitions, and book printing.