In the late 1970s the rising Colombian cocaine king Pablo Escobar, accomplished one of his biggest wishes when he acquires some lands over the Magdalena Medio region, between large cattle farmer fields and thick jungles, at the vast pass of the Magdalena River, close to the road which carries from Medellín to Bogotá. Right there, he situated and built the centre of his reign: the Hacienda Nápoles.
As soon as Escobar reached the height of power represented in notoriety and prestige, as a result of the drug-trafficking boom, the Hacienda Nápoles grew, hastily consolidated, and became known as a heavenly kingdom: outlandish and opulent. A surreal estate where there was peace, rest, celebration, fun, party, meeting, planning, negotiation, traffic, excess, and of course, war and death. During that decade Escobar provided his territory with everything needed, comfort and luxury: including several houses, one of them as a main house with a swimming pool and a jacuzzi, a party hall and dining room; discotheque; a landing strip with hangar to house light aircrafts; heliports in strategic places; an area where luxurious and vintage cars as well as motorbikes and hovercrafts were parked; a gas station; a football field; a bullring; artificial lakes; a theme park with sculptures; stables and an exotic zoo together with gaited horses, ponies, rhinoceros, camels, giraffes, hippopotamus, elephants, gnus, gazelles, deers, zebras, turtles, pink flamingos, ostriches and birds from all over the world. Hence, was established a Golden age of abundance and sumptuousness, when the Hacienda Nápoles was the epicentre of an interested society, a unique phenomenon of richness admired and envied.
After Escobar’s death and the resulting fall of his empire, the Hacienda Nápoles fell immerse in a continuous decline caused by the tropical rainforest force, as the permanent drilling and demolition by some people, and definitely, the oblivion of a Country which refuses to keep a memory of its recent events.
Thus, the Nápoles Project makes a tour through the ruins of the huge kingdom created and constructed by Pablo Escobar, nostalgia of a place once abundant in splendour and materialisms, saturated with myths and stories, flooded in extravagances. A project that reflects through photographs and paintings on a fall and lost paradise placed in the core of a violent environment.
Nelson Guzmán, 2007