The works in Masters of the Imagination: The Latin American Fine Art Exhibition brim with life and passion. Whether the message is serious or whimsical, its sincerity cannot be doubted. These talented artists bring their own brand of craftsmanship from Latin America to New York to engage viewers and leave them wanting more.
Angel Alonso’s acrylic paintings speak in languages both iconographic and purely visual. The artist centers each work around his own stylized version of the human figure, a transparent, fluid outline that calls to mind a more expressive Keith Haring cartoon. In Alonso’s hands the figure is allowed to float, multiply, or grow wings; it is also deceptively subtle in its movements and the emotions it portrays. The figures fight against amorphous, symbol-laden environments. One struggles to hold a ceiling up. Another is adrift among a sea of meaningless, soulless numbers. With surreal colors and an indefinable treatment of space, the paintings seem to exist in a theoretical place rather than the real world. In this way, Alonso says his work showcases “the artificiality of the Western mind,” with its uniformity, insistence on competition, and dependence on technology.
Alonso was born in Havana, Cuba and lived in Sweden for several years before returning to his hometown, an experience which impacted his art, making it universally relevant. He has exhibited internationally, including in Honduras, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States.
Patricia Astorga McIntyre
Chilean artist Patricia Astorga McIntyre paints what she calls “landscapes of the soul,” oil landscapes that not only reference the wide variety of environments in her native country — deserts, lush forests, ocean and the high Andes Mountains — but the dreamlike inner landscape that is inside every individual. The artist says that she wants her work to “re-enchant.” She describes her artistic style as a response to modern man and the human need to find wide open spaces of gentleness. Like the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, she hopes her work will inspire people to question the nature of human existence and our relationship with our environment.
A graduate of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Patricia Astorga McIntyre has participated in several group and solo exhibitions. She says her years at the School of Art College taught her, above all, to fight against the mentality that materialism, misery and art go hand in hand as the highest form of pictorial art. She believes her purpose as an artist is to use her materials to recapture freedom, beauty and life.
Katherine Camargo’s mixed media works on canvas are rich in earthy hues and loaded with dramatic textures. Incorporating cardboard, paper, fabric, ceramic and metal into a distinct flavor of collage, her works offer a refreshing vision of culturally diverse, vibrant social life. Hailing from Brazil, which boasts a mix of peoples comprising its ancestral heritage, her work upholds a spirit of cross-cultural bricolage. After working professionally overseas in New York, Camargo returned home to her native Brazil some years ago and became heavily influenced by the strong currents, colors and themes characterizing Brazilian folk art. Interested in the intersection of the social and its omnipresent play of color, shadow, texture and light, Katherine Camargo’s works are at once chaotic and calm, cheerful and full of an awareness of the artist’s cultural heritage.
Katherine Camargo was born in Itararé, São Paulo, Brazil. The artist moved to New York City in 1998 where she studied at The Art Students League. She has exhibited widely including in Norway, China, South Africa, Dubai, New York City and her native Brazil.
Inspired by the natural beauty and color of his birthplace of Rio de Janeiro, Newton Carvalho’s works express a passion for detail and the need to covey emotion through line and form. Each piece enthralls and entreats the viewer to experience what the artist himself feels. Newton imbues each subject with life, drawing on rainbows of vibrant color that direct the eye through shadow and light. Through fluid movement and balance, he succeeds in establishing imaginative constructs of objects both living and inanimate. His body of work is inspirational, suggestive of inner meaning and contemplation.
Employing mixed media on canvas, Newton’s abstracts are often multi-dimensional. In this way, he succeeds in creating layers that add tactility and depth to each painting. Skillful brushstrokes and tight composition instill each work with a nuance rarely seen in abstracts of everyday objects. The artist clearly challenges the viewer to move beyond initial perception to personal impression. Newton opens mind and soul to the beauty that surrounds us.
The works of Yolanda Crosse focus on rural scenes and subjects, presenting them in a way that enhances the essential solitude of the countryman. She manages to transform reality in her own way, creating an evocative impression of sensitive experiences that gives these oil paintings an energy of impressive dimensions. This is an artist who invites us to live the silences, the whispers, perfumes and colors, both seen and unseen, that give life to the scenes she represents. The result is a powerful feeling of the emotional currents and consequences attached to what we see. Yolanda Crosse says that “today, I understand that the essence of man's thoughts is universal,” and in her work we can perceive her attempt to return to “the roots” and the “essence of humanity.” Nothing remains motionless within her perceptive, immersive dominion, and that, combined with a precise sense of balance, allows the impact to penetrate very deeply into the sensibilities of the viewer.
Yolanda Crosse was born in Montevideo, and still lives and works there.
Mónica Fernández Gálvez
As Argentinian artist Mónica Fernández Gálvez paints, an expressive exuberance emerges in the sweeping energy of her rich and varied abstractions, whose vibrant hues and depth of tone are inspired by the Patagonian landscape of the artist’s home in Neuquén, Argentina, filling her art with a powerful impression of light and atmosphere. Fernández Gálvez’s creative process is joyful and intuitive. As she says, “I have a need for constant experimentation, and for the relentless pursuit of the perfect magic of color. Through my work I aim to awaken in others their imagination, feelings and emotions that nourish the soul.” Moving smoothly between acrylic paints, watercolors and mixed media on canvas, she plays with a wide range of different marks and visual effects, from dripping paint to meticulous, fluid line work.
Self-taught from an early age, Fernández Gálvez received a degree in dentistry from the National University of Cordoba in addition to concentrating on her career as a professional artist, participating in various workshops and engaging in an internal search to develop her artistic skills and identity. Currently she is involved with several local arts organizations and exhibits extensively in solo and group shows.
Mexican artist Luz Gamboa’s oil and acrylic paintings on canvas depict the indigenous communities of her home state of Durango, where she has lived and studied the ways of life. Interested in the mores and traditions of these societies, particularly the women, Gamboa’s richly hued paintings depict the everyday realities of the beautiful culture these women have maintained against the grain of modern day society. Gamboa has been artistically inclined since childhood, when, as an aunt recalled, she drew portraits of women in the family using coal from the stove. Years later she continues this tradition by painting indigenous women, and has enlivened her practice with a palette rich in jewel tones and primary colors. Able to capture a unique lifestyle of which many viewers will be unaware, and reflecting her subjects' strong connection to the earth, vibrant creative life and joyful relationship to work, Gamboa’s colorful creations explore with loving eyes the inner workings of her regional heritage.
Artist Luz Gamboa was born in a distant region of Durango, Mexico and currently lives and works in Mexico City.
Silvia Grandela’s paintings start with the shapes she finds in nature, but while she says that landscapes are her “favorite and recurrent subject,” she does not merely record the world that she sees. Instead, she envelops her scenes of forests and skies in soft, hazy fields of color, giving them a distinctive, dreamlike aura. The artist says that she travels inside herself when working on her canvases, and that idea of an internal world adds a quiet power to her paintings, placing them at what she calls “the edge of abstraction and realism.”
Grandela uses oils, acrylics and enamel in her densely textured images. Noting the ability of oils to let her recreate the effects of light and shadow, she employs that ability to give her canvases a strong sense of depth and dimension. In addition, she expertly balances a varied color palette, juxtaposing bright and muted shades to give each image a dynamic flow. The resulting works capture nature’s essence, but also fulfill the artist’s goal of transmitting a feeling of mysticism to the viewer.
Scenes from nature, specifically vineyards, are given a presence that hangs somewhere between abstraction and representation in Chilean artist Francisca Lohmann’s paintings. In her work, she brings the vines to life, but does so with just the outlines of what we normally think of as realism. The leaves of a vine will coalesce from what could be seen as a casual series of brushstrokes, or subtle patterns of color will reveal a sky or the contours of a landscape.
The artist says that in a vineyard “you can find the full palette of ocher, vermilion, sap-green,” and her works take advantage of that palette, subtly modulating each color to create moody environments in which there is a palpable sense of air, space and light. She also has a strong eye for texture and movement, giving each work a vivid physical presence. The balance between the paint as paint and the scene being depicted creates an energy that lets each viewer realize a unique vision. “I want to get the viewer to interact and discover personally,” she says, “what he sees.”
Victor Montoya’s fanciful acrylic paintings are an exhilarating mix of free-spirited abstraction and serious craftsmanship. Montoya paints condensed, cartoonish figures on stylized landscapes made of geometric hills and plains that don’t so much roll as interlock on top of each other, like facets on a diamond. A flock of birds appears as a tessellation. The skies are comprised of dabs, less rigid than the angular land below but still a texture not found in actual nature. The work is wildly imaginative yet highly ordered – an entire new world built from scratch. Though they exist in some otherworldly terrain, where often elements of interior and exterior as we understand them mesh, Montoya’s pieces give the impression of being soaked in sunshine. The palette is airy, even candy-colored, but expertly developed. And the subject itself is inevitably the glory of the land, as found in the pre-Colombian cultures of Montoya’s homeland.
Victor Montoya was born in Córdoba, Argentina and currently lives in Jujuy. He has exhibited all over the world, including Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Inspired by Antonio Ramón Pinto, Viviano Vargas and by his two children, Jose Moreno’s works have been compared to Cobra Art and Brute Art. Employing a diversity of materials and media, he freely experiments with forms, volumes, lines, and concepts such as the origin of life and the nature of being. “I admire, intuition, freshness, the gesture, and the simplicity of shapes and the way they relate to their work-life environment,” says Moreno. His arresting use of jagged colors and intricate backgrounds suggests the spontaneity of creation and the very unpredictability of life.
Moreno explores infinite lives, ages past, and the “fable of the universe.” On the fringes of conventional logic, his simple shapes are perceived as flirty, flashy, and somewhat proto-human. In what some have called organic abstraction, the artist uses color and form to portray life’s ruptures and the vanishing of luck through time. In this way, he defines the friction in couples’ relationships and the fleeting moments of childhood fantasies. Through convex imagery and the entropy of isolated shapes, Moreno succeeds in creating a context for humanity’s struggle.
Venezuelan artist Miguel Piñero meshes traditional craft with modern digital technology to create his visually arresting and highly original works. With a keen eye for color, texture, and design, Piñero puts his imagination to work and produces dreamlike imagery that seems to sprout from the page. Allowing himself the freedom to use many different types of inspiration, he creates works that contain diverse images but are always reined in by his careful hand.
Piñero uses colorful chromatic threads and systematic placement to attain optical beauty in his work. Often using the figure, he literally weaves the slick vinyl surface with raised textural woven threads to create a sort of static effect. Within this visual space, the viewer cannot easily discern if the image is appearing or disappearing. The weaving technique that the artist has honed is reflective of the digital tools he uses – the colorful strands woven together are not dissimilar to pixels on a screen – and when they come together they make something much larger than themselves. Miguel Piñero is weaving a world of his own, and inviting his viewers to join him there.
Raquel Yuhaniak’s fabric sculptures and multimedia pieces are inspired by her childhood growing up in Santiago, Chile. Watching mothers and grandmothers in her neighborhood weave and knit, Yuhaniak quickly developed a fascination for textile arts that informs her work to this day. Consciously referencing ancient techniques and traditional weaving practices native to Latin America, Yuhaniak begins her process with basic, natural materials — tissue, flax, hemp, burlap, wood, copper and other fibers — and processes them by hand as much as possible, so that each step in the creation of the piece is completed by her, from start to finish. The artist is constantly experimenting with new materials and says she always looks at art as a choice, not a chore. The joy she takes in the process of creation is evident in each of her emotive works of art.
A trained architect, it’s no wonder that Raquel Yuhaniak’s work is so sculptural and well-balanced. She hopes to push the boundaries of material and form, and to inspire others with the joy she takes in her artistic process. ž
The multilayered abstract paintings of Mexican artist Lorena Vázquez are both meaningful and dramatic. In oil and acrylic, Vázquez uses the materiality of her paint to explore and create new spaces. She builds her compositions architecturally, with each new tier introducing its own vivid color, unique stroke, and three-dimensional tactility. Countless flourishes go into a single work, with each careful detail and choice adding to the impact of the whole. Colors rise and fall as easily as textures, with the painting working on the level of plastic art. Contrasts are stark, and transitions are sensitive. Vázquez plays with depth, collision, juxtaposition and light, all while remaining strictly non-representational. Her art is inspired by real scenes and concepts, but exists in a world far beyond the literal.
Vázquez has studied art in France and the United States. In addition to her Bachelor’s degree she has studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and the University of Arts in Mexico. Her strongest influences are Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.