Ilana Savdie <em>Chronic irritations (Collective edging)</em> 2022 (detail), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gift of Byoung Ho Son, 2023<br/>
© Ilana Savdie

Ilana Savdie

Photo: Harry Griffin

Ilana Savdie
Colombia born 1986

Level 2
NGV International
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Drawing on disparate subjects and environments as her source material, Ilana Savdie explores the multiplicity and interconnectedness of bodies. Many parts of her visual language find their origin in the Carnaval de Barranquilla, the annual multi-day festival presented in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she grew up. ‘We can locate in [Carnaval] a very queer history of exaggerating the body and taking up space beyond imposed and oppressive boundaries as forms of resistance and protest’, Savdie has explained.

A central example of Carnaval’s transgressive spirit is the Marimonda, a hybrid character merging the physical attributes of a monkey and an elephant, often worn by festivalgoers as a fabric mask. The character’s large, round eyes and long, phallic nose can be spotted amid a flurry of forms in the right panel of this monumental painting.

Raised in both Barranquilla, Colombia, and Miami, Florida, and now working in Brooklyn, New York, Ilana Savdie creates large-scale, vibrant paintings exploring themes of performance, transgression and identity. In 2008 Savdie received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and in 2018 she received an MFA from Yale University, New Haven. Her work has been exhibited in international exhibitions, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 2021; Kunstraum Potsdam, 2021; Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp, 2019; and the B3 Biennial, Frankfurt, 2017. In 2022 she was an inaugural artist-in-residence at Horizon Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and in 2023 was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Gift of Byoung Ho Son, 2023