In his first solo exhibition with GALLERY ETHER, Colombian artist and curator Joan Mantilla, inspired by psychologist Jacques Lacan’s mirror stage theory, fuses art with psychology in a labyrinth of paint, reflective surfaces, and augmented reality (AR) exploring the human psyche through the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic. This work examines the concept of “Self”, first highlighting the unique ability of human infants to recognize and become fascinated with their own reflection in the earliest months of their life. The infant, usually between the ages of 6 and 18 months, experiences tension between the recognition of their mirrored image and the lack of coordination in their actual body. This experience is pivotal in the formation of “Self”. Continuing forward, Mantilla takes into consideration the construction of the imagined identities that people create as they grow. The image we see when we look into a mirror is not truly ourselves, but is only a reflection which can be distorted and is subject to our various biases and interpretations. The same is true when interacting with other people. Our friends, family, strangers, and social media alike act as mirrors, reflecting back some distorted image of ourselves that we believe we are projecting. Our self-image is influenced by how we think others perceive us, and so we see ourselves through the minds of others, not through our own.


Joan Mantilla

Colombian artist and curator Joan Mantilla first embarked on his artistic journey while working in New York City’s renowned Chelsea, Manhattan art district, immersing himself in his initial forays into collage and graffiti, while also working with and supporting local artists in the city.

Presently, Mantilla plays pivotal roles in two prominent art ventures. The first is “We Art Colombia”, an art initiative conceived in New York City to spotlight the talents of Latin artists working within the bustling metropolis. The second is “BeatBop Gallery”, a gallery establishment founded by Mantilla to act as a cultural and artistic hub in the San Felipe neighborhood of Bogotá.

In his roles as an artist and curator, Mantilla extends his reach internationally to act as a bridge that connects artists and fosters collaboration. His current work is focused in Bogotá, New York, and Tokyo, metropolises that he believes are catalysts for profound transformation and meaningful change in the world.