experi[mental ] Latin American Art on the cusp of Contemporary
Published on the occasion of the exhibition
experi[mental] All images reproduced with permission of the artist For more information on the gallery, please visit saltfineart.com
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experi[mental ] Latin American Art on the cusp of Contemporary
Mayra Barraza Karen Clachar Jorge De Leon Roberto Guerrero Jaime Izaguirre Jorge Linares Priscilla Monge Ronald Moran Luis Fernando Ponce Angel Poyon Irene Pressner
March 3 - April 28, 2011 Opening reception March 3, 2011
saltfineart introduces Experi[mental], an exhibition of works by a new generation of globally oriented Latin American artists. In the age of the Internet, these artists have transcended limits that both confined and galvanized their predecessors. That is not to say that concerns over political corruption, personal repression, the overarching power of religious institutions and upper social castes and rigid sexual stereotypes have disappeared from consciousness. But, the computer savvy can foment change and, liberated from the confines of studios and national boundaries artists too can address issues that define them as individuals and explore commonalities with their contemporaries worldwide. “Who am I?” has become both question and battle cry. For better or worse, psychological self-portraits set against backgrounds of socio-political events draw artists and their audience into ever-changing maelstroms. This means that Roberto Guerrero can instigate once taboo ruminations on masculinity and gender roles via sculptures like They Told Me As A Boy I Could Only Play With Cars, a golden high-heeled shoe enhanced by tiny wheels and festoon an ersatz hand-grenade with rhinestones. Given the endless stream of televised mayhem, Luis Fernando Ponce addresses the absurdity of parents still giving their sons toy guns. To point out the banality of most violent conflict, he places these toys made mostly from cheap plastic into cheese bells, bowls of soup or toilet bowls—eat, defecate and be merry just don’t expect to live forever after. Jorge Lineares and Jaime Izaguirre strike similar chords. Lineares’ superficially whimsical conversion of a housewife’s iron into a tank slyly hints that war may be hell but, if junior enlists, mom will be so proud. Furthermore, Lineares’ Guatemala-made hybrids express his opinion that too much of the nation’s resources are spent on its military. Izaguirre’s re-purposed toy soldiers show the ease with which distinctions between reality and fantasy can be obscured when it comes to combat. In an age where images of war casualties’ coffins are largely kept from the public, war movies are still guaranteed immortality. Ronald Morán began his art career during the 1990s, when armed political conflict in Central America had more or less ended. Still, as societies strove for normalcy, it became clear to Morán and his audience that normalcy is an illusion created by politicians and leaders of commerce who are often far removed from actual life of the masses where violence in the street remains pervasive. By wrapping everyday household objects and children’s toys into white cotton, for example, he suggests that domestic life is often punctuated by violence against those most helpless, women and children. Angel Poyon’s series of tombstones titled I Am Not Here But I Am asserts his own and that of his compadres’ sense of self. Indigenous/minority young are forced to uphold former colonialists’ outdated social tenets on one hand and to disregard ancestral wisdom in favor of contemporary westernized values on the other. Similarly, Studies of Failure Measured in Time and Space is a manifesto sympathetic to world migrants whose journey can be seen as trekking through hostile territory with a broken compass.
The power and usage of language and communication is a persistent preoccupation among all who routinely cross all sorts of borders. Priscilla Monge’s installation titled Myths are a Matter of Life and Death deals with words and their effect on intergenerational and sexual relationships. On a more personal level and beneath superficial humor, her series Pensum wittily addresses inner conflicts of women who rebel against entrenched circumscriptions. A chalkboard filled with the admonition I Should Not Sleep with Art Critics skewers the persistent notion that if women transcend limitations and make it to the top, they must have done so on their backs, talent and wit be damned. Jorge de Leon who, presumably, entered gang life driven by his own sense of alienation, uses ex-rays of his tattooed neck and chest in lieu of a canvas. Obtained during treatments for gun shot wounds, the images are eerily beautiful while bearing witness to a culture in which survival into one’s thirties is not taken for granted. Irene Pressner’s tattoos on encaustic appear light hearted, even cute, on the surface but are they really? Inspired in part by number tattoos forced on her Jewish ancestors upon entering Nazi concentration camps, her repeated use of Disneyesque characters suggests the irony inherent in socially engineered escapes from harsh realities. Mayra Barraza makes troublingly pervasive points in her series titled “The Invisible Man.” Some paintings such as a portrait of a man sprouting antlers suggest that given the right circumstances man’s primitive instincts will, for better or worse, prevail. For the most part, she addresses issues of visibility or the lack thereof. It is those who remain unseen that have a better chance of making a better world for all, or are the unseen destroying it under cover of darkness? Looking at one of Barraza’s portraits is akin to looking at one’s soul as reflected in an endless mirror. While keeping lines blurred, she provides more means of communication between her subject, herself and anyone willing to immerse him/herself into her work. Karen Clachar straddles centuries and cultures in her installations of miniature “Sabaneros,” Costa Rican cowboys whose way of life and work disappeared with that of cattle ranches in a country swallowed wholesale by tourism. Modeled on China’s iconic army of life-sized clay soldiers, Clachar’s sculptures become even more poignant while placed into an alien setting such as a museum or gallery. Equally moving are sculptures/ assemblages of cattle horns placed on platters made from pieces of Guanacaste trees that are now extinct as well. The result is both beautiful and macabre, a last supper for a culture. In sum, Experi[mental] raises clearly delineated points but also gives viewers enough autonomy to question the role of art in an increasingly complex world, independently from the artists’ intentions. —Daniella Walsh, 2011
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Daniella Walsh has written extensively about art and the people who make it, focusing on the Southern California art scene while also venturing into the rest of the United States and Europe. She has lent her unique voice to publications such as Riviera Magazine, ArtScene, The Orange County Register, Art & Antiques, Art News, Art and Living. She has also authored and edited catalogue and book essays. Daniella Walsh can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com Background artwork: Mayra Barraza, DEER MAN, part of the INVISIBLE MAN series, 69 x 87 inches, oil on canvas
roberto guerrero From his beginnings in photography shaded with guilt to his objects of art that are a celebration, over the last decade Roberto Guerrero’s autobiographical work has given visual voice to the experience of being different in homogenous and macho Latin America. Guerrero’s art has been exhibited collectively at museums, fairs and galleries the world over - from the Brooklyn Institute of Contemporary Art in New York, to the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Chile to Art Basel Miami (07,05) and Scope Basil in Switzerland (08) among others. Guerrero has also represented his native Costa Rica at the Central American Biennial (05).
THEY TOLD ME AS A BOY I COULD ONLY PLAY WITH CARS dimension varied, one of a kind embellished stiletto heal
A LETHAL WEAPON FOR A DELICATE SOLDIER
dimensions varied, one of a kind rhinestone and gold-painted grenade
angel poyon Poyón is one of the most important voices of the experimental contemporary art movement in Central America. Departing radically in execution from the traditional artistic expression of his indigenous background, Poyon’s pieces nonetheless probe assimilation and identity. With individual shows in Guatemala and Costa Rica as well as collective exhibitions at the Tai Pei Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Art of the Americas in Washington DC, the III Biennial of Visual Arts of Central America in Nicaragua and gallery exhibitions in Cuba, Miami, London and Norway Poyon’s talent proves prolific.
altered chrome mechanical clocks STUDIES OF FAILURE MEASURED IN TIME AND SPACE dimension varied various sculpted marble tombstones from the series I AM NOT HERE, BUT I AM 11 x 8.5 inches, each
priscilla monge Priscilla Mongeâ€™s multimedia pieces and installations explore love, aggression and the complexities of power. She provokes using a wide variety of visual languages (photography, film, object, sculpture) and as a hallmark her art often plays with language itself. Monge is one of the most accomplished artists of contemporary Costa Rica. Part of the permanent collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Seville and Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei, among others, Mongeâ€™s recognition extends well beyond her native country. She has had solo exhibitions in New York, Spain, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
MYTHS ARE A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH from "the artists does not reveal mystic truths" series 40 x 60 inches photography
“I SHOULD NOT SLEEP WITH ART CRITICS” from the "pensum" series 31 x 23 inches color photograph on metalized paper
“I WAS LOOKING TO KILL YOU BUT YOU STOLE MY GUN” dimensions varied, sculpted marble top, altered student's desk
luis fernando ponce With a recent solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art Guatemala, the last decade has seen Luis Fernando Ponce catapult from a background in graphic design into the world of fine art - most specifically photography and sculpture. He has exhibited collectively and individually in Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, and the United States. His work forms part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art “Carlos Mérida” in Guatemala, the Bibliotèque Nationale of France, and the Museum of Art and Contemporary Design in Costa Rica. Ponce’s work directly approaches the effects of violence, commercialism and cultural imperialism.
(From left to right, top to bottom) SOUP, CHEESE PLATE, TOOTHPASTE, TOILET 12.5 x 15.5 inches photography, edition 1 of 7
jorge linares The mode in which Jorge Linares presents his work runs a wide spectrum between whimsy and stark reality. As multi-media artist, Linares utilizes many different mediums to convey socio-economic realities related to global trade and commercialism.
CAR IRON dimension varied, assemblage sculpture VOID sculpture object marble dust and resin
Very much a rising star in Latin Contemporary Art, Linares was chosen to participate in the Academic Residence for Emerging Central American Artists as well as, most recently, the 2010 World Bank Exposition in Washington DC.
jorge de leon A former gang member who expected to be dead by age 33, Jorge De Leon is on the front line of art as activism in his native Guatemala. De Leon approaches subjects of violence and poverty with an intelligent, graphic sensibility - using painting, drawing, public intervention, sculpture and his body as a canvas. Representing Guatemala in a number of Latin Contemporary exhibitions as well as joining the permanent collections of the Blanton Museum of Art (Texas), De Leon has received recognition in several exhibitions in France, Spain, Canada and the United States. Representing Guatemala in a number of Latin Contemporary exhibitions, De Leon has received recognition in several exhibitions in France, Spain, Canada and the United States. In 2004, he received second prize in painting at the XIV Biennial of Art Paiz, Guatemala.
X-RAY OF ARTISTâ€™S HEAD AND CHEST WITH TATTOOS 10 x 8 inches x-ray photograph
Irene Pressnerâ€™s tattoos on encaustic appear light hearted, even cute, on the surface but are they really?
(left) FRED & WILMA 19.5 x 19.5 inches ink applied with a tattoo gun into encaustic wax on board (above) FERDINAND 31.5 x 31.5 inches ink applied with a tattoo gun into encaustic wax on board
After experimenting for decades with acrylics, oil, acids, mixed media and even asphalt, Irene Pressner is finally seduced by the sensual, human feel of beeswax. Her unique pieces use a tattoo device on encaustic (beeswax) board to create ‘Rococomics’ camouflaging tattoos popular with American servicemen during WWII and historic comics among the repetitive patterns of antique textiles to create in the spectator the surprise of discovery. Winner of the first prize in the MOLAA awards of 2006 as well as major awards in her native country Pressner’s work is included in museums in Venezuela, California and Israel and has been exhibited from Florida to New York and Spain.
jaime izaguirre A notable emerging contemporary from Central America, Izaguirre is voraciously exploring his talents. Just selected to participate in a World Bank exposition that will travel from Washington D.C. to Paris, Izaguirre was also awarded the first prize in the internationally juried auction of the Museum of Art El Salvador (2009) and won second place at the II International Video Festival in Nicaragua (2009). He has also twice won scholarships to technical ateliers at the Superior School of the Arts, Nicaragua. His work has been exhibited extensively throughout Central America. Izaguirre’s images often deal with the asymmetries of innocence and power.
(above) Stills taken from the stop-motion animation film “Maniobras de Guerra” (right) POWER PLAY 29 x 22 inches watercolor on arches paper
karen clachar From a beginning in fine arts - specifically painting and engraving, Clachar bursts into the world of conceptual art full force - photography, intervention, objects, sculpture - all aimed at recuperating and memorializing disappearing Costa Rican cultural heritage. Her art joins a cutting edge avant-garde sensibility with a resurrection of traditional images and objects. With a solo show at the National Museum of Costa Rica in 2009, Clachar has exhibited large-scale installations at international biennials in addition to participating in solo and collective exhibits in France, Spain, New York, Miami, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico. She has won awards both for her critical interventions and her photography.
ronald moran Named by Exit Madrid as one of the 100 most influential contemporary Latin American artists, Ronald Morรกn has participated in over 150 exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. In 2007, Morรกn represented El Salvador at the Venice Biennale. He has also exhibited at the Bien al Cuvee in Austria, the Tenth Habana Bienal, the Dorsky Curatorial Project in New York and the Margulies Collection in Miami with a recent invitation to the Beijing Biennale in 2010. His work addresses the silence of power and aggression, the white cotton wrapping his pieces projecting a benign appearance that belies their true nature.
(left) HOGAR DULCE HOGAR/ HOME SWEET HOME Prometeo Foundation for contemporary art, Lucca Italy, 2005 18 x 12 inches installation photograph, Lamda print, edition 1/5 (above) TRIPTICO COCINA/ KITCHEN TRIPTYCH object photographs 2009 12 x 18 inches, each Lamda print, edition 2/7
Looking at one of Barrazaâ€™s portraits is akin to looking at oneâ€™s soul as reflected in an endless mirror.
mayra barraza Barraza’s is always in pursuit of the human experience. During her distinguished 20-year career, Barraza has earned national recognition for her art in her homeland of El Salvador as well as Europe and the United States. Winner of both the most recent MOLAA awards (2008) and the Iberoamerican Bienniale (2009), she has exhibited at the II Biennial in Lima, Peru, Casa de America Latina in France, Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno in Spain, Museo del Barrio in New York and Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña in Puerto Rico, among other institutions. The distinctions of Barraza’s career and her contribution to the Latin American cultural and artistic discourse make her a well-recognized leader of contemporary Latin American art.
(left) LITTLE MAN 20 x 20 inches oil on canvas (above) BODY OF EVIDENCE & THE SLEEP OF REASON 40 x 27 inches watercolor on arches paper (following page) DEER MAN 69 x 87 inches oil on canvas
saltfineart introduces Experi[mental], an exhibition of works by a new generation of globally oriented Latin American artists. In the age o...