THE EXPANSIVE WORLDS OF JOAN BELMAR:
Cartographer, political commentator, musicologist, passionate observer, Joan Belmar exemplifies these skills in addition to his quite proven mastery of his art. That cosmology comes together in his third exhibition at Addison/Ripley in bold two and three dimensional compositions which, by choice, strongly align with current events. Organized around the evocative exhibition title, Cambalache, the artist references both some of the musical culture of his birth and, in a recurring design motif, the, not so civic, U.S. political scene today in these new works. Cambalache is the name of a tango written in 1935 by Argentinian Enrique Santos Discepolo for the film, The Soul of the Accordian, which was overtly critical of Argentinian 20th Century corruption and initially banned by several dictatorial regimes .
The familiar but deceptive simplicity of the circle and line structure of Belmar’s paintings and constructions allows a rich range of palettes, at times earthy and quietly ashen, and, at others, rainbow bright. The complexity of his compositions allows the viewer to become lost in even the smallest work.Utilizing vinyl, acetate, wood and mylar in addition to traditional vehicles of paper and canvas, the artist constructs layers and layers real and illusory depth, demarcations of line and material. The sharp tap of a flamenco heel mingles here with the mellow, smoke tinged voice of a 1930s Southern Cone cantor in Tango y Vino bars.
A practicing artist in Washington since 1999, Joan Belmar synthesizes his perceptions of the division, corruption and low values that sometimes challenges our civil society into brilliant, joy filled paeans to hope. As the artist states: “I play with light, transparencies and the sculptural qualities of these elements in order to evoke the concepts that are important in my work: Time, change and movement.”
Originally from Santiago, Chile, Belmar was the recipient of The Maryland Arts Council Individual Artist Award in both 2010 and 2013. He was a finalist for the D.C. Mayor’s Art Award as Outstanding Artist in 2007 and went on to receive D.C. fellowships in 2009 and 2010. In 2016, the artist received the First Award for Original Artwork at the Osten Biennial of Drawing in Skopje, Macedonia.