San Juan, PUERTO RICO - Walter Otero Contemporary Art (WOCA) inaugurates its new gallery in Old San Juan, with the exhibition "Angel Otero, recent work", which opens to the public on Thursday, February 28 at 8:00 in the evening.
WOCA's mission is to exhibit great contemporary art in Puerto Rico and Angel Otero's first solo show in his native Island is the ideal way to launch the space.
Angel Otero ( b. 1981, in Santurce) is one of the most sought after contemporary young artist, who already has an impressive track record. The artist, who lives and works in New York City - and graduated with a M.F.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago - is known for his technical ingenuity in creating abstract art. His sublime but unconventional use of traditional materials on the canvas, in particular oil and glass, separates him from other contemporary painters. His approach of creating images by scraping paint over paint pays tribute to traditional oil painting while executing the work in a unique, if not conflictive and challenging manner. Otero's work combines depth with innocence and an impeccable and unique technique.
Otero's earlier work was influenced by memories of his family (photographs and memorabilia) and 20th century paintings. His most recent work goes deeper into the artist's own confrontation of his inner most personal memories -- paintings that represent a deeper understanding of personal introspections combined with his technical sophistication. Otero creates surprises and discovery by intermeshing a constant give and take between art history and the history of his individuality.
"I am inspired by art history while at the same time I challenge it and question it. Although some of my work reveals a romantic approach related to a personal memory, I'm not interested in the narrative of such. The experiences and memories are the pretext for the construction of the work, a simple creative tool that could manage any other object as a starting point. I'm influenced by the energetic movement of abstract expressionism and classical painting, and the material use and the process. I seek tension between classical and contemporary paintings," said Otero.
His painting process is anything but conventional. He spends the same time working with dry paint as he does with wet paint. Otero begins by applying coats of oil paints on a piece of glass in a reversed order. Once the paint is half dried, he scrapes it off the glass and applies a layer of oil to the canvas surface creating a dense texture. The compositions in Otero's creative process reveal surprising bursts of color and produce unexpected wrinkles and organic textures.
"I begin to recreate a classical or representative painting with oil over a glass surface. Marks are painted on this initial layer and then another layer is laid of a classical representation image followed by more marks of movement above this. This process is repeated back and forth, combining or debating figurative and abstract painting. When the painting is completed, I cover it with a thick layer of oil paint and let it stand for about a month. Once the paint reaches a certain viscosity, I use a specific tool to gently scrape or liberate the paint from the glass until it is transformed into an oversized oil skin. This further distorts the image, creating an unexpected abstraction," said Otero.
"I can control fifty percent or less, perhaps, of the final result, but these constraints and the uncertainty are what initiates the dialogue I aspire to create. My process is very physical... by transforming material that has its own expectation or a two-dimensional principle into a three-dimensional object while retaining the original substance of what it always was," concluded Otero.
Otero's paintings have been presented in renowned museums and galleries including: The Sixth Biennial at El Museo del Barrio; Memento, solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York; Prism Gallery, Los Angeles; Chicago Cultural Center, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; ISTANBUL '74, Isa Gallery, Mumbai India. Otero recently opened a solo exhibition at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia and had his second exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York.
His work is among the prestigious private collections of the Martin Z. Margulies Collection; DePaul University Museum, Chicago; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, KS; and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC, among others.
Otero was also awarded the "Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Visual Art" and received the "Critic's Pick / Selection Review," in the November 2012 issue of Artforum magazine and was named one of the "50 Next Most collectible Artists" by Art + Auction. His work was profiled in "How to spend it" in the Financial Times magazine of the The New York Times.
WOCA's Walter Otero added: "Ángel's work is hallucinating, and his technique is innovative and fascinating. He already possesses an impressive track record and this is just the beginning of a long career."
"Ángel Otero, recent work" will be on display until April 1. The exhibition is made possible by collaboration between the Walter Otero Contemporary Art and the Lehmann Maupin Gallery.
Walter Otero Contemporary Art (WOCA) is located on 402 Constitution Ave., in San Juan (Puerta de Tierra), PR. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or by appointment. For more information call WOCA at 787-627-5797 or visit www. walteroterocontemporaryart.com.