Even now, when I think of contemporary abstract art, the names that come to mind are well-worn ones: Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, etc. What all of these artists have in common, besides the high prices they fetch at auction, seems to be the same as many of the other artists we revere: old, male, white.
For this reason, the latest exhibition at BRIC, Latinx Abstract, curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, is not just a breath of fresh air, it is a groundbreaking event. It is a show that immediately recontextualizes how we think of abstract art, expanding our understanding of the genre.
What the exhibition emphasizes is the different ways these artists approach abstract art, through painting, weaving, sculpture and more. The selections are not by Latin American artists, but specifically Latinx, individuals of Latin American descent based in the United States. In this way, the show doesn’t just focus on these artists responding to their race or ethnicity, as is often the case when they are included in museum exhibitions, but showcases them for their arts’ sake. The artists produce work that has a range of influences, from computer science to graffiti, from the mining of precious metals to femininity. As the exhibition text asserts, “Their bodies of work are neither figurative nor culturally specific nor political in the traditional or overt sense.”
What is most enjoyable about the exhibition is the wide variety on display. The 10 artists selected to be included range in age and are all at different points in their career. There are paintings by veteran Freddy Rodriguez, whose colorful, geometric works dominate one corner, and then there are textiles by Sarah Zapata, placed high up near the ceiling, drawing the eye skyward. It is a visual feast, one that pays tribute to the language of abstraction and its many dialects. One that is worth a visit.
The exhibition is on view until May 2 at BRIC. For those who prefer to stay home, there is also an option to view it virtually.
Artists: Candida Alvarez, Karlos Cárcamo, Maria Chávez, Alejandro Guzmán, Glendalys Medina, Freddy Rodríguez, Fanny Sanín, Mary Valverde, Vargas-Suarez Universal, and Sarah Zapata.