artscene article by roberta carasso
This group of Latin American artists each share a common history of colonialism, each growing up in an atmosphere where violence, poverty, and political strife were the norm. In each country artistic subcultures emerge that are driven to tell how ironic it is to live in a colorful paradise that is somehow rife with social and political corruption. Rather than openly portray that atmosphere, artists find piercing inroads to convey content over beauty. The power of their art comes from not spelling out the situation, but by intriguing viewers to become involved in each enigmatic story. When hidden messages are revealed and its impact understood, the reaction can be more devastating than a direct critique. “Experi[mental]” is designed to expose this artistic underground to the light of day. Luis Fernando Ponce deals with the rampant social violence of a gun culture. Jorge de Leon, a former gang member, shows the fragility of life when young boys take on a life style that exposes them to mortal dangers. Karen Clachar creates a collection of clay “Sabaneros,” Costa Rican cowboys, who disappeared when tourism forced replacement cattle ranching. Ronald Moran confronts child and domestic violence by covering various objects with soft, fluffy white cotton. Angel Poyon creates a series of tombstones that reference the death of ancient indigenous values in place of alien western ideas. The exhibition brings home the idea that art has a transformative effect. It helps us see not only the life of other cultures, but, like a mirror, art leads us to see ourselves and our culture through fresh eyes as well.