Eugenio Dittborn was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1943, and continues to live and work there today. He studied in Chile and abroad in Paris, Madrid, and West Berlin. Living in Chile in the late 1970s and early 1980s under the brutal dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, Dittborn used his art to critique the repressive government.
In this context, Dittborn began making his Airmail Paintings around 1983. Their nontraditional format takes advantage of inexpensive materials and lightweight construction to create a larger possibility for distribution. He folds the paintings and packs them into envelopes, mailing them to all parts of the globe. When exhibited, they retain the fold marks and are shown next to the envelopes in which they came. The envelopes list the itinerary, becoming a permanent record of their travels. Each painting’s journey represents Dittborn’s own physical separation and his journey from relative isolation in Chile to the many international shows in which he exhibits.