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Venezuelan artist brings new value to discarded banknotes

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VALENCIA, Venezuela, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Venezuelan artist and medical student Elianni Di Gregorio is using old bolivar notes as canvas for her paintings as she strives to give them new value after rampant hyper inflation and successive overhauls saw them discarded.

Di Gregorio, 24, decided to paint on bolivar notes thrown away in the trash to restore some of the currency's former glory.

Three monetary overhauls since 2008 have cut up to 14 zeros from the currency, pushing vast quantities of notes out of circulation. The most recent overhaul took place in October, when Venezuela's central bank wiped six zeros from the bolivar. read more

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"I could see how they were throwing incredible amounts of paper money in the trash, which affected me greatly, which is why I decided to reuse them for a different purpose and began to paint on them," said Di Gregorio, who has used the banknotes as her main canvas since 2017.

In one of her paintings Di Gregorio used a pink 20-bolivar note to reproduce La Fornarina, which depicts a semi-nude woman in one of renaissance artist Raphael's most important works.

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Elianni Di Gregorio, an artist and medical student, uses an old Bolivar note as a canvas for her paintings, as she strives to give them new value after rampant hyper inflation and successive overhauls saw them discarded, in Valencia, Venezuela November 10, 2021. Picture taken November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

The replica painting will go on show in a virtual exhibition in New York this December after Di Gregorio entered it in a competition, where it was selected alongside nine other works.

"I surprised myself when I managed to do it on something so small," she said, adding that the Italian Raphael is one of her favorite artists because of his extreme precision.

The paintings let people see the banknotes more positively, instead of the negatives of the economic crisis that has destroyed their value and leading to de facto dollarization, she said.

"This is my way of building the Venezuela I want in the future, restoring value to banknotes that are no longer useful," Di Gregorio, who also plans to paint on banknotes from other countries, said.

Hyperinflation also prompted artists in Zimbabwe to turn worthless Mugabe-era banknotes into paintings. read more

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Reporting by Johnny Carvajal and Deisy Buitrago Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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