Puerta Roja celebrates this summer its 7th anniversary as the only gallery in Asia Pacific specialised in Latin American and Spanish art with “Collector’s Cabinet”. Since its foundation by Adriana Alvarez-Nichol, the gallery has focused on exhibitions that expand the understanding of Latin American artists’ contribution to the development of global art movements, selecting artists whose discourse remains relevant to Asia Pacific. Its programming has introduced master’s works from Mexican modernism to South American geometric abstraction. The gallery has supported the internationalisation of emerging artists and has presented ground-breaking new media installations by Miguel Chevalier as well as works by conceptual artists such as Carlos Aguirre and TRES Collective.
This exhibition brings together a selection of the diverse range of artists represented by the gallery, highlighting the common spirit that runs between their work and showcasing chosen works from Alvarez-Nichol’s personal collection. Challenging perceptions and stereotypes of Latin American and Spanish art, “Collectors Cabinet” juxtaposes the practices of artists working in different mediums, movements and times.
From the digitally generated pixels of Miguel Chevalier, Hector Velázquez’ yarn covered figurative sculptures to Casanova’s wood and bronze sculptures, the amazingly diverse mediums and techniques used are not only vehicles for visual communication, but reveal a story within themselves.
The dialogue between the classical, modern and contemporary is negotiated in the silver point oil paintings of Roberto Cortázar. His impeccable technique, seldom mastered by contemporary artists, intertwines figurative realism with gestural abstraction, altering the way in which objects are represented. Cortázar also constantly explores and references post-war movements in his work. The collocation of one of his figurative “kinetic” series paintings with that of Carlos Cruz-Diez, a precursor of the Op Art and Kinetic movement, provides insight into the role of the artist as an interpreter versus an inventor. The Cruz-Diez works in bold, graphic, abstract patterns expose the simple yet misleading mechanisms behind our perception of reality, presenting an ever-changing circumstance rather than absolute certainty. Ventoso, from a younger generation following on the footsteps of the likes of Cruz-Diez, plays with that uncertainty with monochromatic three-dimensional planes.
Looking beyond representation as an exploration of the invisible metaphysical world is Irene Dubrovsky, whose work depicts images of constellation maps and celestial forms through the weaving of amate paper. The choice of material, as it is in the case of Laurent Martin Lo’s bamboo mobile sculptures or Cristina Moroño’s hand-made paper representations, is neither a purely practical or aesthetic solution, but a conscious decision to embrace materials charged with spiritual connotations.
Abstract expressionism re-defined the understanding of the art object, as it can be appreciated in José Luis Alexanco’s mature hand, but importantly allowed a focus on the creative process itself. Younger, emerging artists such as Javier León Pérez and María García Ibáñez have spun from the pure, intuitive marks of early abstract painting, to depict the micro and macro worlds that were once invisible through tactile practices and three-dimensional representations. Miguel Chevalier does that too with generative code, mimicking natures algorithms to create mesmerising, visual fractalization. Weather it is the hand that moulds the vision or modern mechanisms, these artists tap into the geometry of nature.
In more direct manner, the conceptual artwork of Carlos Aguirre questions the structure of language and categorization, and TRES Collective explore the implications of public space and garbage through artistic practices that concentrate on the methodological intertwining and dialogue with science, anthropology, and archaeology among other disciplines.
Although Puerta Roja has a regional focus, this exhibition highlights the universality of its artists discourse, providing a platform for cultural exchange between one “periphery” culture and another… building direct bridges between Latin America and Asia without the need for western translations. Although there are vast differences in culture, geography and language, art can create communication beyond the confines of a single language and develop new and positive dynamics for globalisation.
Within the diversity of discourse and mediums by Puerta Roja artists, emerges a pattern of rigorous commitment to research, experimentation and practice. It is not a single style or form that brings these works to coexist on the same walls, but an intimate relationship with the material and concept, whatever that may be. It is here that the art may truly engage with the viewer, providing food for the soul in its breath-taking execution. It is through this deep negotiation with the creative process that Puerta Roja artists can create visually impacting work, not as an end in itself but as a tool to transmit their ideological messages and challenge the perceptions of the viewer.