We may all differ over how to properly pronounce GIF, but there should be no debate over the artistic possibilities that have been opened by the 21st century’s most unlikely digital comeback story. In addition to helping us share bite-sized moments ripped from our favorite films, TV shows, and Youtube videos, the unpretentious image format has emerged as an 8-bit animated canvass upon which artists can imprint their imaginative flights of fancy in 256 colors.
While the GIF as first unleashed on the world in 1987, its most recent renaissance has brought about museum exhibitions, international festivals, and critical studies that have all but crowned it as one of the 21st century’s newest and most exciting artistic media. For many creators, the brief, silent image loop is often a welcome compliment to work in more traditional media like animation or photography, but its status as a truly digital-native format is rapidly making the GIF the medium of choice for artists of all ages.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting Latin American artists experimenting with the format today.
Carlín Díaz (Venezuela)
This Caracas-born, Paris-based animator has carved his distinctive style out of a fresh and innovative use of color and shape that nevertheless harks back to classic painters like Kandinsky and Henri Rousseau.
An self-professed art school dropout, López was inspired to return to art after discovering Vine, and has dedicated herself whole heartedly to the creation of short animations and GIFs since then. Her distinctive style features bold, black lines set against a white background, with splashes of red or pink; while thematically, her GIFs deal with intimacy and interior worlds.
For decades, Jaime Travezan has been making his name as a photographer working across fashion photography, photojournalism, and experimental collage. His GIFs are a logical outgrowth of his genre-bending photo work, and he has been listed across a number of outlets as one of the most exciting GIF artists working today.
Known professionally as G1FT3D, Fajardo has been working with GIFs for five years, opting for a glitchy aesthetic deeply inspired by the experience of everyday life in his native Guatemala City. His playfully deconstructive style has taken him through a variety of phases, but Fajardo remains firm in his desire to challenge long-held artistic assumptions.
A second year animation student in Mexico City, Islas is a native of the steamy southeastern state of Tabasco and makes playful GIFs that draw from colors, rhythms, and folkloric imagery of Mexico. Despite her light touch, Islas makes room for romanticism and even a little political commentary in her work.
This mysterious animator and illustrator from La Plata, Argentina doesn’t reveal much about himself, but his work speaks for itself. Oscillating between dark, moody pieces, erotica, and playful renderings of animals, Lannóo has shown himself to be as versatile as he is creative.
Hailed as one of Chile’s most outstanding contemporary artists, this native of Quintero, Chile moves effortlessly between digitally-manipulated photography and GIFs, incorporating symbolic elements with visual abstraction to forge a singular aesthetic that has turned more than a few heads.
This Argentine painter works in a joyful, naive style that incorporates the bright colors of indigenous folklore and the mystical symbolism of painters like Frida Kahlo. GIFs are not her primary medium, but they a welcome compliment to her well-known visual collaborations with artists like Chancha Via Circuito and Lulacruza.