Continuing & Recommended - ArtScene May 2010
This is a two for one exhibition – the art of Ana Mercedes Hoyos and the unusual history of the Palenque people. Each is integral to the other and each needs to be seen as an ensemble. In Latin America, and particularly in her native Columbia, Hoyos is regarded as one of the leading living artists. Her prolific career spans four continents and five decades. Her work is standard in many museum collections in Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Japan and New York. Based on the selection presented here, what makes her art unique is her exquisite use of line and edge in clear and striking renderings of colorful fruits sold by Afro-Colombian market ladies. Her style is sensual, and her ability to draw, paint and sculpt is mesmerizing. However, in this exhibition Hoyos changes up from her usual subjects in order to introduce us to another world - The Free People of Palenque. These Colombian natives, dating back to the 17th century, have an unusual history and culture rare in South America or anywhere else for that matter. A matriarchal society to the present day, the Palenque people seized an unusual window of opportunity when the Spanish Crown not only granted freedom to a group of runaway slaves, but allowed them to chart their own government. Thus Palenque became the first free territory in the Americas. To convey the power of women, Hoyos focuses on linear renderings of aprons worn by the matriarchs as they conduct business in the marketplace with complete freedom and authority. The work is understated to the point where the tied bow that forms the central feature of each apron, drawn close up and with great attention, becomes a curvaceous abstraction in backgrounds of pink, blue, green, white, and gold. Hoyos shows that simplicity is elegant; and uses that effect to convey that freedom is the most natural order of human existence (Salt Fine Art, Orange County).