In Jersey City, Mana Contemporary Welcomes a Colorful Array of Latin American Art

May 24, 2016 6:44PM

Image courtesy of Mana Contemporary.

Some acts deserve an encore; some refrains need a reprise. So it is with “Everything you are I am not,” a wide-ranging exhibition of Latin American contemporary art. The group show originally opened in Mana Contemporary’s Miami location; now, as an encore, it arrives at the gallery’s sprawling Jersey City space.

Curated by Catherine Petitgas with works from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, the sweeping exhibition offers 60 pieces by 30 artists, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and large-scale participative installations. The evocative title was borrowed from one of these works, Todo lo que vos sos yo no (Everything you are, I am not) (2008), by the well-known Argentine artist Adrian Villar Rojas. The phrase—and the work itself, which features several airbrushed objects on a pedestal—is a subtle reference to a larger movement in Latin American art that calls for the subversion of mainstream art, often with incisive, even comical results.

Indeed, many works in the show turn tradition on its head. In particular, there’s a clear emphasis on street and urban art, reflecting a trend in Latin American capitals from Buenos Aires to São Paulo to Lima. Banana Market/Art Market by Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth centers on a 1978 Volkswagen van, its door slid open to reveal a collapsing mountain of bananas. Sem-Titulo (Over the Rainbow, that’s how it is) (2010) by Os Gêmeos features a car, too—though the wacky mixed-media piece doesn’t look like anything you’d run into on a city street.

Those elements of fantasy and originality run through other pieces as well, including experimental work from Argentine artist Eduardo Basualdo and Mateo Lopez, a Colombian. Elsewhere, Brazilian artist Leda Catunda depicts a web of interconnected brains in a cerebral painting on voile and velvet, while her Siameses (1998) shows a blue ribbon linking two colorful shapes, as if a body of water separates yet connects the two masses. 

—Bridget Gleeson

Everything you are I am not: Latin American contemporary art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection” is on view at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, New Jersey, May 1–Aug. 1, 2016.

Follow Mana Contemporary on Artsy.