PURCHASE, NY.- The Neuberger Museum of Art
of Purchase College reopened Sunday, April 28th with the timely exhibition Pre-Columbian Remix: The Art of Enrique Chagoya, Demián Flores, Rubén Ortiz-Torres, and Nadín Ospina. (The Museum had been closed for ten months during extensive HVAC renovation work.)
Pre-Columbian Remix, features more than 90 works of art, including stone sculptures, lithographs, large-scale paintings, platinum and cyanotype prints, and a monumental outdoor inflatable sculpture, on loan from different venues throughout the Americas (Bogotá, Mexico City, San Diego, New Jersey, New York). The works are by Enrique Chagoya, Demián Flores, Rubén Ortiz Torres, and Nadín Ospina. The memory of pre-Columbian cultures, of its icons and myths, is ever present throughout Latin America. In fact, in most Latin American countries, the very idea of Pre-Columbian heritage (meaning, indigenous culture before European colonization) has been a strategy to reinforce national unity. But this trend is being challenged by four leading Latin American artists, whose work is the focus of the exhibition, on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art, from April 28 through July 14, 2013.
By fusing ancient Aztec, Mayan or Incan art forms with pop-culture imagery in an ironic and often humorous manner, the artists address present day concerns specific to Latin America today such as national identity, cultural colonization, and immigration, as well as universal issues including corruption, war, and consumerism, says Patrice Giasson, curator of the exhibition. The result is an engaging, provocative, twenty-first century composite portrait. Re-mixed, and renewed, the past becomes accessible under very different perspectives.
Giasson points out that by re-mixing elements from different times and places in novel ways, the work of the artists presented here offers a new reading of history. The past is not conceived as a long narrative of successive events in time but rather as something integrated into the present. This allows the artists to inscribe their own time and concerns into the historical framework.
Enrique Chagoya (b. 1953, Mexico City, Mexico; lives and works in San Francisco, CA)
Chagoya makes paintings and prints about the changing nature of culture. By juxtaposing secular, popular, and religious symbols, he creates deceptively friendly points of entry for the discussion of complex issues. Pop icons such as Mickey Mouse and Superman are placed side by side with ancient sacred images to create a tension and dialogue between different cultures. The artist addresses colonialism and oppression. Explains Chagoya: Cultures are transformed and often completely destroyed by conquering ones. The world is endlessly re-mapped and re-named, with new rules and rulers in recurrent holocausts... This is the raw material for my art.
Demián Flores (b. 1971, Oaxaca, Mexico; lives and works in Mexico City and Oaxaca)
This is the first exhibition of Demián Flores work in New York and the most complete survey exhibition he has had in the United States to date. With an intense direct style, Flores anchors his work in the reality of contemporary Mexico. He mixes images from Mexicos past and present pre-Columbian warriors, fertility figures, and pyramids, with present day comic book characters and appropriated images from pop culture, such as baseball, soccer, and boxing. This hybrid product reflects controlled violence, and his concerns about the survival of pre-Columbian roots in a world increasingly homogenized by globalization and a different sort of colonization achieved by the bombardment and power of mass media imagery. All this, the artist believes, leads to alienation and a cultural identity crisis in Oaxacan communities.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres (b. 1964, Mexico City, Mexico; lives and works in Los Angeles and San Diego, CA)
The work of Ortiz-Torres also addresses hybridization, the blend of Mexican and American cultures and what happens when those cultures come together. A resident of Los Angeles, Ortiz-Torres is concerned with transnational cultural media and objects ... photography, video, film, painting, baseball caps, custom cars, machinery, puppets, and the collisions of art and culture. My work interacts with the cultural and iconographic post-national chaos, he once commented. He sees uncertainty, dislocation and the creative compromises that characterize peoples and places--and considers the possibilities. With the world in transition, he addresses the implications of multiculturalism and the politics of identity.
Nadín Ospina (b. 1960 Bogotá, Colombia; lives and works in Bogotá)
Pre-Columbian Remix is the most representative and complete exhibition of Ospinas work to be exhibited in New York. It includes works from one of the artist's most significant body of work known as El sueńo americano (The American Dream). This exhibition also includes Ospinas giant inflatable sculpture, The Stroller, which was presented at the 7th Havana Biennial (2000) and at the 49th Venice Biennial (2001), and on view now for the first time in New York.
Pre-Columbian Remix: The Art of Enrique Chagoya, Demián Flores, Rubén Ortiz-Torres, and Nadín Ospina is organized by Patrice Giasson, Alex Gordon Associate Curator of Art of the Americas.