The countries of Central and South America have incredibly complex social histories, intertwining the cultures of many different influences. Inspiration comes from all manner of corners, whether it be from indigenous roots or introduced languages, contemporary lifestyles, active political responses or even individual personal expression contrasted against such an intricate patchwork. An undeniably vibrant and dynamic visual art conversation has emerged from these particular historical ingredients, marked by a feverishly indelible spirit which makes for some of humanity’s most crackling artistic voices.
Roberto de Lamonica was a Brazilian master printer, painter and professor. His early career incubated in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, then in 1963 he was invited to teach at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1965 and settled in New York City in 1967, where he taught printmaking at several institutions, including the New School for Social Research, the Pratt Graphics Center and the Art Students League. In this 1968 silkscreen print IX Bienal de Sao Paulo, many rich passions can be sensed in his imagery, his colors, the inventive composition arrangement and energetic tone.
IX Bienal de Sao Paulo – Roberto de Lamonica, 1968 Silkscreen
Roberto Matta was one of Chile's best-known painters and one of the groundbreakers of abstract expressionist and surrealist art of the 20th century. He studied architecture and interior design in school, and on graduating in 1935 he journeyed from Peru to Panama completing surreal drawings of the geographical features he experienced throughout the trip. He was later introduced to such luminaries as Magritte, Dalí, André Breton and Le Corbusier in travels through Europe, and his fierce and unique style must be something borne from a combination of his homeland and his Spanish, Basque and French descent. It’s hard to say what can be seen in this original stone lithograph Untitled Composition, printed for the final (6th) edition of The Situationalist Times: International Parisian Edition in 1967.
Untitled Composition – Roberto Matta, 1967 stone lithograph
Romero Britto is a contemporary Brazilian neo-pop artist, painter, screenprinter and sculptor. Britto lived a very modest childhood while growing up among a big family of eight brothers and sisters in Recife, in the Northeast of Brazil. As a self-taught artist from early on, he painted as much from observation as imagination, on surfaces such as newspapers, cardboard or any scraps he could find. Encouraged to travel to the US where Pop Art was flourishing, he settled in Miami, Florida in 1989, amidst a diverse Latin American community. Britto’s motto is “Art is too important not to share,” a value reflected in a myriad of endeavors like protecting and preserving the Brazilian Rainforest, assisting the ill, funding AIDS research and creating a foundation to support education and philanthropy for children. His focus combining elements of cubism, pop art and graffiti displays vibrant colors and bold patterns as expressions of hope and happiness, seen in this signed silkscreen van Britto.
van Britto – Romero Britto, SIGNED + framed silkscreen
Fernando Botero is the Colombian superstar whose signature style is so distinctive it inspired the term “Boterismo”, in which he depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America, and his art can be found in highly visible places around the world, such as Park Avenue in New York City and the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Self-titled "the most Colombian of Colombian artists" early on, he carries his country’s flag proudly. Between influences like the Baroque style of local colonial churches, growing up amidst the city life of Medellín and 2 years of matador school at the age of 12, the eccentricities of an eclectic upbringing lead the way to a most wonderful and voluminous internal makeup from which to draw. "An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it." Two prime examples of his particular enigmatic charisma are the 1984 poster Mostly Mozart for the classic Lincoln Center series and Los Musicos, a 1980 poster from a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian.
Mostly Mozart and Los Musicos – Fernando Botero, 1984 and 1980 offset lithographs
And Latin American artists cannot be mentioned without a call to Diego Rivera, prominent Mexican painter and husband to the imperial visionary Frida Kahlo. His large frescoes helped establish the mural movement in Mexican art, painting important murals in places like Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City between 1922 and 1953. Rivera began drawing at the age of three, a year after his twin brother's death, and had been caught drawing on the walls. His parents, rather than punishing him, installed chalkboards and canvas on the walls. Descended from ancestors forced to convert from Judaism to Catholicism, Rivera associated heavily with being Jewish yet also as being an atheist— known for a tumultuous and incendiary attitude, he frequently painted subject matter of inflammatory socio-political nature. Amongst countless paintings depicting his deep sensitivities, this poster of Man Carrying Calla Lilies seems to bring many themes into succinct and graceful focus.
Man Carrying Calla Lilies – Diego Rivera, 2000 offset lithograph