SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE
Gustavo Charif (沙里夫•古斯塔沃), Stateless writer, visual artist and filmmaker, born in America (San Miguel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 18, 1966), lived in Europe and lives in Asia.
His artworks were shown since 1986, and took part in international exhibitions side by side with Pierre Alechinsky, Enrico Baj, Fernando Botero, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Jean Miotte, Pablo Picasso, Antonio Saura, Bram van Velde and Roland Topor among many others.
Charif in his early childhood
He makes his first short stories and small paintings before start the school years. At the age of five, he paints an extensive strip of film paper to adapt a book in a first attempt to make a film.
Around eleven years old, starts to experiment with different techniques and all kind of materials on canvas, paper and stone: gouache, shoe polish, dyes, enamel, tea, coffee, inks, stones, objects, fire, glues. His first collages are from this time. Shortly thereafter, Charif attends at literary workshop in the “Casa de la Cultura” (cultural municipal institution) of San Miguel. Three years later he gets the diploma of Technician in Literature, at the age of fourteen.
In 1989 was named Special Guest at the Primera Bienal de Arte Joven (First Art Biennial of Young Art) for his body of work as experimental filmmaker (Recoleta Cultural Centre, Buenos Aires).
Apotheosis -intervention with acrylic paint on Poussin, made about the age of 13-
From 1991 to 1994, Charif writes a script with the legendary Argentinian artist Luis Felipe Noé. (The project is ongoing for a feature film.) Around those years, works for film director Leonardo Favio (1938-2012), collaborating in production and scenography areas. In 1996 begins an extensive correspondence with Fernando Arrabal.
In October 1997, The Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires organises his first short film retrospective, showing a series of homegrown techniques. In November, Elía-Robirosa Foundation presents his first solo exhibition, with a series of paintings inspired in old masters works that impressed him on his early childhood (Baldung, Bruegel, Cosimo, Cranach, Crivelli, Jan de Flandes, Fouquet and others), combining the older classic techniques with other invented by himself.
In 1998, his short experimental film Barroco Natural: El nuevo éxito de la industria del cine (Natural Baroque: the new success of film industry) is broadcasted in Film & Arts channel, in a TV show together with films by Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brackhage, Michael Snow and James Whitney.
A few frames from Natural Baroque (1997)
From 1999 until today, he develops a parallel life as musician, working hidden under several secret names in different projects.
In the same year, he founds a religion that does not accept followers, and writes a series of precepts in an indecipherable writing. This writing was sent, via fax and e-mail, to 99 intellectuals from different countries.
In 2000, arrives to France selected by the Museum Baron Gérard (Normandy) being part of the exhibition Kaléidoscopies: Arrabal et les artistes, among artists like Jorge Camacho, Salvador Dalí, Maxime Godard, Jean Miotte, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Olivier O. Olivier and writers like Michel Butor and Michel Houellebecq.
Soon after he printed a false cover of Le Figaro magazine which distributes through all Paris announcing his “invasion to conquest the barbarian French people”, and meets Alejandro Jodorowsky who invites him to a public dialogue about his works and his future.
In 2001, The eccentric film director Jorge Polaco (1945-2014) commissions him the poster for the feature film Viaje por el cuerpo (Journey Through the Body). A couple of years before, Polaco commissioned him a series of set designs for a project about Albrecht Dürer.
In the same year, is invited by the Fondo Nacional de las Artes (National Endowment for the Arts) to be part of an exhibition in the international art fair arteBA, in a selection which includes Xul Solar, Marta Minujín, Guillermo Roux and Jorge de la Vega among other Argentinean masters, being Charif the youngest.
Shortly later Fernando Arrabal and Milan Kundera invite him to illustrate the first artist’s book that brings them together. The book (a limited edition of very few copies) is exhibited for the first time in 2004 at the Charif’s solo exhibition Alexandria (Centro Cultural Borges). You can see part of the book here.
The book exhibited in the Centro Cultural Borges (Buenos Aires, 2004)
In 2002 he writes the Manifiesto Encarnado (Incarnate Manifesto), published in the catalogue book Profane Alchemy / Alquimia Profana (Ed. Nexos, Bs. As. – New York) for his solo exhibition at Daniel Maman Fine Art.
The same year, after an exhibition at the Espace Accattone in Paris invited by Kazhik Hentchel (vicepresident of the Societé des Amis de Roland Topor), on December 15, he canonised Luce Moreau Arrabal at the front door of Notre-Dame de Paris, giving her the title of Saint Lis in the presence of Thieri Foulc (Provéditeur of the Collège de ‘Pataphysique), Jean-Marc Debenedetti, Grégoire Lacroix, Michael Thalheimer, Albert Delpy, Gabriel Matzneff, Olivier O. Olivier and two thousand people.
Carla and Jean-Marc Debenedetti, Charif, Luce Moreau-Arrabal (Sainte Lis), Fernando Arrabal (San Fando), Laurence Imbert and Marc Brenner at the doors of Notre-Dame de Paris (December 15, 2002)
On the following year of his huge solo exhibition in the Centro Cultural Borges, founds in 2005, with Andrés Onna, Infinilogy; a kind of para-aesthetic and para-philosophical group which develops, in a series of works and texts through a curious website, a parody of an extravagant sect and, at the same time, a joke about the typical avant-garde art movements. Soon later, Onna visits Louise Bourgeois at her home in New York, who, very enthusiastically welcome the creation of the infinilogists. The following year in Paris, Arrabal and the Collège de ‘Pataphysique commissioned to Onna a big painting representing a meeting with Sainte Lis (canonised by Charif 2002), Thieri Foulc (Provéditeur-Éditeur Général du Collège de ‘Pataphysique), the 16 Satrapes from the College (Arrabal, Umberto Eco, Dario Fo, Jean Baudrillard, René Clair, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Eugène Ionesco, Alfred Jarry, Michel Leiris, Joan Miró, Jacques Prévert, Raymond Queneau, Man Ray, Boris Vian), and the infinilogists Onna and Charif.
In 2010 is released his first feature film, The Reason (IMDb data sheet here), which includes an unreleased song by Moby, who generously granted the rights for use in the film. The film is awarded for “the excellence technique” during the Festival de Cine Inusual, and invited out-of-competition to the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in 2011.
Around that time, he starts a series of works that he calls analogitals, consisting in a new technique integrating analog photography and digital format with collage, inks, pencil and oil pastel.
Meditation of Flesh (2011), one of the first analogital works
In 2012 he represents Argentina in Art Expo Malaysia, with a one man show, in Argentina Embassy booth. (Caution: This exhibition was presented without any kind of support from Argentinian government and the artist was invited previously by the fair, and the booth completely financed by Asian, Dutch and French private companies. The trip was sponsored by KLM / Air France. Charif was directly invited by the fair, and Embassy gave just some logistic support -thanks especially to Ambassador María Isabel Rendón-, and without financial support.)
In 2013, the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Kuala Lumpur requested him to create an artwork that portrays his personal vision of Qatar. The work is exhibited on 16th May at the Peace & Security Forum, in the Ritz Carlton Hotel.
In the next years his works are exhibited in international fairs like Art Osaka (Japan, 2013), CUTLOG Paris (France, 2013), CUTLOG New York (USA, 2014) and others.
Charif’s conference in the National Visual Arts Museum of Malaysia and some Asian press
In 2015 takes part of The Selfie Show in the MONA (Museum of New Art, Detroit, USA) in a selection with international artists Gao Brothers (Beijing) and Rahman Hak-Hagir (Vienna), among others.
In 2016 presents in Taipei (Taiwan) his big solo installation 樗—自然裡的美術館 (Ailanthus, or The Living Museum of Art by Nature), invited by the 關渡國際自然藝術季 (Guandu International Nature Art Festival). More in http://www.guandu-natureart.tw and works in detail here.
2017: USA premiere of Are They Cannibals?, the music video for the abstract metal band DIMESLAND. Click here in case you want to see the video or here to buy the album.
Detail of More Than Just Crumb (oil and mixed media on canvas, 2013)
Ending the year, the Museo de la Palabra (Museum of the Words, Toledo, Spain) grants him the title of Ambassador of the Word, title with which the museum honours “writers whose works promote peace and concord between different cultures”. His first action as ambassador consisted in ask to 22 artists, very different each other, a quotation from their own culture to share with the world. The action-document is completed on next year and sent to the museum with the title XXIII. The artists collaborating with a quotation are (in alphabetical order): Afa Annfa (Hong Kong), Catrine Val (Germany), Chris Connelly (Scotland), Claudio Caldini (Argentina), Elena Redaelli (Italy), Lars Teichmann (Germany), Lili Wilde (Portugal/UK), Liu Bolin (China), Lui Itzel (Mexico), Marianna Ignataki (Greece), Mei Melançon (Philipines), Molly Harvey (Unites States), Nolan Cook (Unites States), Paul Barnes (Scotland), Raúl Herrero (Spain), Ray Caesar (England), Saffie Ng (Australia/China), Yasuaki Shimizu (Japan), Yeom Ji-hee (South Korea), Yohanna Idha (Sweden) and Zhangxu Zhan (Taiwan). To read the document, please, click here.
In 2018 the big canvas Nuestro delirio (1995/1996) became part of the heritage of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) of Argentina. The Museum’s heritage includes works of Bouguereau, Courbet, de Chirico, Degas, El Greco, Fontana, Gauguin, Goya, Kandinsky, Manet, Modigliani, Monet, Pollock, Rembrandt, Rothko, Rubens, Tiépolo, van Gogh and Zurbarán, among others.
February, 2018: worldwide premiere of Ophelia Moment -demo version-, oficial music video for Chris Connelly (official site here). To see the video, please, click here.
Book cover of Narraciones simples (2018)
June, 2018: First edition of Narraciones simples (Simple Narratives), a book with 33 stories in Spanish which includes 33 images made with the analogical technique (a procedure of his own invention). Click here to see or buy the book via Amazon.
2020: His second feature film, The Year of Living Locked Up, is made in a format that he defines as tubefilm, a way especially conceived to the Internet.
Currently Charif is working in a book with the Hong Kong’s artist Afa Annfa (a.k.a. Afa Lee), in his third feature film, Something Else (IMDb data sheet here), and in a project commissioned by the Swiss multi-disciplinary artist and musician Dieter Meier.
Charif’s works are found in collections of Europe, Asia and America (Einaudi, Pescheux, Zakaria, Tan-Yeoh, Fortabat Art Collection, Elía-Robirosa Foundation, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Argentina, Stradella Bianchi and Christina Burrus, among others).
For a detailed biography year by year, you can consult the CHRONOLOGY.
To see and read a selection of reviews, texts and tributes for or about Charif, please click in MENTIONS.
For a list with a shows selection, please click in EXHIBITIONS.