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Ten-Year Survey of the Work of Betsabeé Romero on View at the Neuberger Museum of Art
Betsabeé Romero, Espiral sin fin (Endless Spiral), 2008, five carved tires, 21 x 98 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist. On the wall in background: Cadena de oro y plata (Gold and Silver Chain), 2008, Volkswagen tires embedded with gold and silver leafs, 33 x 33 x 86 inches.Courtesy of the artist.

PURCHASE, NY.- This spring, the exhibition Betsabeé Romero: Lágrimas Negras/Black Tears, a ten-year survey of the work of internationally-renowned Betsabeé Romero, Mexico’s leading artist, will travel from Mexico to the Neuberger Museum of Art, the only United States venue. Romero is a self-described “mechanic artist,” who draws on Pre-Columbian iconography, colonial imagery, and popular culture to transform automobiles and their components into contemporary works of art. The artist’s refashioned cars, carved tires, painted hoods, and incised mirrors explore the tensions between local traditions and industrialized societies dominated by speed, mass production, and emigration.

Betsabeé Romero: Lágrimas Negras/Black Tears will be on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art through August 14, 2011. The exhibition features more than 80 objects including sculpture, prints, photographs, videos and installations, and presents some of Romero’s most accomplished works. Featured are: Ciudades que se van (Moving Cities), a series of four 60-foot-long tire prints on textiles that hang from the ceiling and fall onto the gallery floor; Anemona de luz (Light-Anemone), a cut-paper and light installation created in 2007 for an exhibition on the work of Anni and Josef Albers (San Idelfonso Museum, Mexico City), where the visitor is plunged into a universe of shadows of Pre-Columbian and Islamic patterns; and the famous Cuerpos vestidos (Dressed Bodies), featuring the intimate union of two automobiles covered with a burqa, a work that caused a great sensation at the 2006 Cairo Biennial and for which the artist was awarded First Prize. The exhibition also includes her series of highly original suspended tire sculptures, such as De Tuti fruti, where a rubber-like tire is, in reality, made of pink chewing gum. Through clever inversions of meaning and material, Romero’s works question the way in which modern industry appropriates and transforms natural elements such as clay, rubber, and gum for mass production.

In addition to the exhibition, Romero collaborated with Purchase College students to create an on-site installation for the Neuberger Museum of Art. The sculpture is inspired by an object of her choosing from the exhibition Art in Cameroon: Sculptural Dialogue, which is on view at the Museum. According to Giasson and Marie-Thérèse Brincard, Curatorial Advisor for the African Collection, this is the first time contemporary Mexican art “enters into a creative dialogue with traditional African art in the context of two exhibitions juxtaposed.” Romero’s new piece, On Our Backs, will resonate with a royal throne from the Kingdom of Kuk, included in the Cameroon exhibition, and selected from the collection of the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin.

“Like these figures [supporting the Cameroon royal throne] writes Romero, we are under the weight of our instruments, we support on our backs the same used tires that have swiftly and boundlessly run over our memory, leaving just an imprint on the surface.”

Betsabeé Romero
Awarded First prize in the 2006 Cairo Biennial, Betsabeé Romero has exhibited her work internationally and is included in prestigious collections including the Los Angeles County Museum; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the Daros Collection, Zurich: Switzerland; and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Mexico City. Born in Mexico in 1963, Betsabeé Romero studied art in Mexico at the Institut des Beaux Arts de Paris. She completed a Master of Fine Arts in 1986 at the San Carlos Academy (ENAP-UNAM), Mexico, and a second Master of Art History at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1994. She has exhibited her work internationally and had more than 40 one-person exhibitions including: the Absolut Biennial, Los Angeles; the Contemporary Museum of Monterrey; the Carrillo Gil Museum, Mexico City; and the Ramis Barquet Gallery, New York. She has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions and biennials including the InSite 97, Tijuana; Art Grandeur Nature, La Courneuve-Paris; the Habana Biennial, Cuba; the Porto Alegre Biennial, Brazil; and the San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, Puerto Rico. Betsabeé Romero is also renown for numerous monumental installations and interventions in urban communities including East Los Angeles; Chicago; Mexico City; and Toulouse, France. Her work is included in prestigious collections including the Los Angeles County Museum; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; the Daros Collection, Switzerland; and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Mexico.

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