Painting is not always in color and black and white is not only found in drawings and photography. This show is an examination of paintings in black and white from the United States to South America. Richness and depth can be achieved in the subtle manipulation of light and shadow. A world without color is nonetheless rich in texture as the artists explore a variety of subjects and styles. It's all laid out in black and white. Artists include Kcho, Jose Franco, Tania Bruguera, Arturo Montoto, and Raul Martinez from Cuba; Sergio Hernandez from Mexico; Gene Pearson and Colin Garland from Jamaica; Rosangela Renno from Brazil; Kenneth Green and Bas Albert from the U.S.
Specializing in art from the Americas, the Pan American Art Gallery features avant-garde and contemporary works, as well as folk art, photography, sculpture and ceramics. The gallery owns one of the worlds largest collections of Cuban, Haitian and Jamaican art.
Tania made her mark in performance art starting in the early 90s. She has received fellowships in the United States, including at the San Francisco Art Center, where she taught for a few months. Following this experience she was encouraged to start a performance art department of study at the University of Havana.
She has presented her performances and video installations the world over. A suit made with mud and roses that she wore at the Havana Biennial is now part of the DAROS collection in Switzerland. Another suit, made of tea bags sewn on fabric, which she wore in order to protest colonialism, is in the Pan American Art Gallery collection, as is a large Cuban flag woven of human hair (which was illustrated in Duke Universitys art department magazine).
Most recently, at Documenta 2002, she presented a video, complemented by large drawings, consisting of a succession of title biographies showing the atrocities committed by governments in the 20th Century, preceded by the locale and year of the offense. One of the large paper compositions, listing the names and years, will be seen in Pan American's Black & White exhibit.
Jose Franco comes from an important group of artists working in Cuba in the 1980s. His work focuses on animal skins and the patterns that arise in them. The works are primarily black and white and a third dimension is added by way of tails that protrude and hang from the canvas. His work has been shown in Cuba, Europe and the United States.
Cuba is a window with a 360-degree view of the sea. Kcho's work spreads over these waters with a unique hue, as if it were a cultural archipelago within a Cuban visual topography. Kcho is synonymous with Cuba. Restless, happy, can do man, like a whirlwind that affects everything in its path, Kcho is a paradigm of the Cuban man and his destiny: the sea. (Leonor Amarante, Brazil, 2002)
His work comes from a paradigm of a unique artistic universe; the fruit of a growing interest that accentuates his search for feeling, such that the dimensions of his creative activity exceed even the highest expectations. (Hortensia Montero, curator of the exhibition From the Landscape). His work shows up internationally first at the Museum Alejandro Otero in Caracas in 1991: in those objects lay a spontaneous complicity with nature & we are confronted first hand with an intimate rural poetic expressed through visual and artistic resources. (Gerardo Mosquera, 1991).
The sea is the invisible frontier. The only permanent aspect of Cuba is that it will forever be an island. The sea is very important for me, and for all Cubans, for the histories that lie within it. I try, through my work, to inspire thought about and reflection upon these themes. Artists manipulate ideas; it is a huge responsibility, for this reason we must know where and how to look. (Kcho)
Montoto's work is photorealistic to the point that you want to reach out and grab the item in the canvas. He focuses on daily household elements from Cuba and brings them into a clean backdrop frequently of steps or leaning against a wall. His work has been exhibited internationally and is also in many permanent public collections in Europe and Latin America.
Martinez was part of an important group of painters in the 1950s, Group of Eleven which gathered together to rebel against traditional Havana painting with strong colors and baroque style. His greatest rebellion was in his expressionistic abstractions done solely in black and white. He got involved in pop art and worked with iconic themes from Cuba, principally heroic figures. Raul has exhibited throughout Europe and Latin and North America.
Rosangela's work is hard to classify, while the base of her work is photographs and negatives, they are found, not of her own creation. She appropriates these authorless images into her work that tells a story all her own, or rather to present a private image, made public by being discarded, and revealing it in a new light.
Renno's work appeared in a show of contemporary Brazilian art at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and at the Americas Society, both in New York in 1992 though her work was most prominently highlighted in her one-woman exhibition Cicatriz (scar) in 1996 at MOCA in Los Angeles. She has had several solo shows in Brazil, was featured in the 1992 Sao Paulo Biennial and has had group shows throughout Europe, the U.S. and Latin America.
Sergio comes from the Oaxaca region of Mexico, a region rich in the visual arts. He focuses on the markets and typical wears, foods and animals that are present. Yet, he takes these images and transforms them until they are his own. His work is highly abstract and yet soothing in the multitude of images that arise. Hernandez has taken several sabatacles in Turkey, Egypt, Europe and Latin America which have influenced his work. He has shown internationally and his work recently sold at Christie's auction.
Born in Australia, Colin Garland has been adopted as a native in the Jamaican art world. He works with equal proficiency as a painter and a sculptor, focusing on mythical images and icons. His paintings feature soft and refined figures while his sculpture shows the figures in a more surreal form. Colin has exhibited internationally and is featured in the permanent collection of the Jamaican National Gallery.
Gene currently splits his time between his two homes in Berkley and Kingston. A proficient sculptor, Gene focuses on the human face and bust. Most if not all of his pieces are actually modeled after his own features. Working in a delicate Raku technique in his ceramic works, Pearson creates a complex texture in his jars and busts. He has moved into bronzes as well and does a great deal of casting while in Berkley. Gene Pearson has exhibited internationally.
Green focuses on landscape and a sense of place. His recent work focuses on New Orleans and a generally southern/tropical landscape. Working on museum board with oil pastels, Green achieves a highly refined texture and patina in his work. He accents his primarily black and white works with subtle silhouettes in soft grays. Kenneth has exhibited throughout the U.S., particularly in New Mexico where he lives and works.
gelatin/silver print/plexiglass plate/4
curved bolts with nuts,
110 x 50 cm, 1991.