Since 1983 all of Eugenio Eugenio Dittborn’s work has been meticulously folded and packed into cardboard airmail envelopes and sent by post to exhibitions around the world.

Through the course of his long career, Eugenio Dittborn has produced videos, artist books, pioneering mixed media works and extraordinary projects such as ‘painting’ the Tarapacá desert in Chile with 400 litres of burnt car oil (Oil Change, 1981). It is, however, for originating the concept and practice of Airmail Painting that he has become most renowned.

Dittborn's Airmail Paintings are collages of embroidery, patchwork, print, ink, paint and text constructed on synthetic, lightweight fabric. Information about each work, including details of any journeys it may have previously taken, is written on the envelopes which are displayed in exhibitions alongside the unfolded artwork.

Airmail Painting was Dittborn’s inspired solution to the problems of working in Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It was a way of disguising his artwork, bypassing bureaucracy and establishing a unique presence in the international art world. First shown in Colombia and Australia in 1984, hundreds of airmail paintings have since travelled around the world including the three works that arrived in Dittborn’s characteristic envelopes for the Sharjah Biennial in 2009.

Born in 1943, Dittborn still lives and works in the city of his birth, Santiago de Chile. Regarded as one of Latin America’s most important artists, his work has been shown in numerous exhibitions including América Latina: arte y confrontación, 1910 – 2010, a substantial retrospective of Latin American Art, The Traveling Show, Colección Jumex, Mexico City (2010), and the Sharjah Biennial (2009). His work is found in major public collections including Tate, London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

October 2010

This person was part of Sharjah Biennial 9


Dittborn, Eugenio

Airmail Paintings

The following is a text in progress, dating back to 1985 and now published in its eighth state; it is the Ars Pictorica of the Airmail Paintings: