Regrouping: Three Generations of Latin American Artists in New York
At Baruch’s Mishkin Gallery, May 11 – June 6, 2007
Joaquin Torres-Garcia is still not well-known in the United States, but he is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the twentieth century. Almost single-handedly, Torres Garcia (1874-1949) introduced European Modernism to Latin America. His studio, El Taller Torres-Garcia, became an incubator for at least two generations of Latin American artists striving to create a modern Latin American aesthetic by combining the pre-Columbian art of the Americas with the pervasive influence of European giants like Braque and Picasso.
Regrouping: Three Generations of Latin American Artists in New York, on exhibit at Baruch College’s Mishkin Gallery, May 11 – June 6, 2007, reveals both the diversity of Latin American artists and their cosmopolitan reach. All the artists included in this show spent time in New York City. For some, it was an interlude in a highly peripatetic lifestyle, while others lived and worked in New York over a period of years. Under the influence of Torres-Garcia, the Uruguayan artist Julio Alpuy made use of the complex geometry and quasi-industrial style of what was called the Constructivist aesthetic.
Two works by Alpuy, Union Square and New York Fire Escapes both show the artist’s interest in New York, a dense urban environment that embodied the new aesthetic. The works of Lithuanian born Jose Gurvich (New York Study and New York Cityscape Series) and the Chilean artist Juan Downey, also demonstrate an interest in things both mechanical and symbolic (Do It Yourself: Capacitance Relay and Do It Yourself: Invisible Communication).
Latin American modernists were not limited to paint and canvas. The artists, especially those that followed the generation of Julio Alpuy and Gonzalo Fonseca, used the most eclectic of materials, including the earthenware ceramics of Lidya Buzio’s architectural constructions and the four-panel construction of Marina Gutierrez which incorporates aluminum, copper, metal mesh and computer prints. Finally, the Dominican artists Iliana Emilia and Julio Valdez, who are the youngest artists in the show, make use of sinewy lines, foliage and vines to create a synthetic grass-covered chair and a painted forest. At this point, the tight Constructivist patterns of Torres-Garcia and his heirs seem remote.
Regrouping: Three Generations of Latin American Artists in New York includes the work of eighteen individuals from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, New York City, and the Dominican Republic. Collectively, these artists all absorbed European modernism second or even third-hand. Much of their work consequently looks experimental and provisional. Collectively their art testifies to a search for a uniquely Latin American amalgam of the modern with the ancient and indigenous. It is a quest that began in Torres-Garcia’s studio and continues as young artists search for identity today.
Opening Reception for this exhibition is on Thursday, May 10, 2007, 6 – 8 pm. Free and Open to the Public.
The Mishkin Gallery is located at 135 E. 22nd Street, New York City. Gallery hours are Monday- Friday 12 noon to 5 pm; Thursday, 12 noon – 7 pm.