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"Latin America: A Contemporary View"
at Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Review by Michael Abatemarco

Engels, ''You Don't Know Me,'' 2010, oil on fabric, glass, wood, 23 x 30 x 4''.


Continuing through August 24, 2012


The first in a two-part series of exhibitions, “Latin America: A Contemporary View” offers a mix of the modern and contemporary in work that ranges across mediums. It is a well-rounded exhibition with a neat tie-in to Tamarind Institute, the nation’s premier center for lithography, located in Albuquerque.


In all, over 15 contemporary artists, some well known like Argentinian artist Antonio Seguí, are represented in the exhibit. The list includes Jose Bedia, Manuel Mendive, and Gioconda Rojas Howell to name a few. A set of four mixografia prints on handmade paper by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) offers a bridge between Mexico’s contemporary and modern periods. Tamayo is often associated with Mexico’s Modernists, but stood out from the muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, who were his contemporaries. The figures in Tamayo’s prints, all stylized, have a primitive feel, all rendered with a minimal, but vivid, use of color. Seguí’s bustling urban scenes, represented here by a series of lithographs and one oil painting, “Un Saludo Gentil,” and the mixed media work by Mendive, a Cuban artist whose art is  informed by his interest in the Santería religion, are among the standouts. 


A strong example of lithography is a print called “Cristifixion,” an abstract crucifixion scene by Roberto Matta that may owe some of it’s chaotic power to Picasso’s “Guernica.” Nearby, Audino Diaz’s “Homenaje a Cristo” provides a fine contrast to Matta’s print. A mixed media work on canvas, “Homenaje a Cristo” is primarily textile. 


Lithographs and works on paper by three contemporary artists, Brazil’s Tiago Gualberto, Sidney Amaral and Rosana Paulino, round out the exhibition. Their work, made at Tamarind where the artists were invited to do residencies, and featured at the institute alongside American artists Alison Saar, Willie Cole, and Toyin Odutola in a concurrent exhibition called “Afro: Black Identity in America and Brazil,” is compelling work. Gualberto’s “Cabelo (Hair)” and “Synonyms,” are bold pieces that recall Franz Kline's calligraph brand of Abstract Expressionism, particularly “Synonyms.” Paulino’s two-color lithos are elegant front and back views of a nude figure. Branching fingers extending from the figure carry a symbolic weight, rooting her to earth and sky.

Zane Bennett Contemporary Art

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