Local Arts

Latin American print shows offers evocative voices

Fernando de Szyszlo, Untitled, 1978. Etching in colour with embossing on watermarked Guarro paper
Fernando de Szyszlo, Untitled, 1978. Etching in colour with embossing on watermarked Guarro paper courtesy LaCa Projects, Charlotte

Latin America is a vast geographic region and yet the individual artists and art works presented in “Latin American Masters: The Quest of Printmaking” showcase an vibrant and discrete set of creative voices.

Running through Aug. 21, at LaCa Projects gallery in Charlotte, the exhibition features the works of eight master print makers from such nations as Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico and Peru. Images rich in technique and creative expression, political and social commentary and a deep inquiry into personal experience, among other topics, are expertly and poetically conveyed.

Roberto Matta’s (Chilean, 1911–2002) series “Une Saison en Enfer,” for example, is a riff on American poet Arthur Rimbaud’s 1873 masterpiece “A Season in Hell.” These evocative images feature complex, multilayered compositions printed upon a vibrant, fluid orange-red ground suggestive of a hellish Inferno. In varying degrees, each utilizes elegant curvilinear lines combined with intriguing dreamlike, even hallucinogenic forms that are simultaneously elegant and grotesque, foreign and familiar.

The commanding stature of Fernando de Szyszlo’s (Peruvian, 1925- ) creativity is borne of a balance between figuration and abstraction. “Untitled” from 1978 is a dramatic and disjointed portrayal of a stylized figure that combines the simplified elements of a human body. de Szyszlo’s dreamlike figure morphs from exterior limbs upwards to interior tubing analogous to the human heart’s outwardly simple yet internally complex anatomy. Noteworthy is the artist’s inspired and creative attention to form, composition, color and surface.

Perhaps the youngest and well-known just now is Argentinian Guillermo Kuitca. Born in Buenos Aires (1961- ), the artist is represented by what appear to be architectural renderings or seating charts of theaters. At first glance, Kuitca’s prints might seem unremarkable. However, he uses the designs of performance spaces as a foundation for creative experimentation and social commentary.

Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919 - 1999) powerfully expresses human violence and oppression in “Lidice”, a suite of three prints that serve as a reminder of the 1942 Nazi “Massacre of Lidice.” In this small Czech village, every adult male and fifty-two female citizens were murdered. Widely known for his social activism, Guayasamin’s “Lidice” compositions are cross-like and suggest the Swastika. Dubbed the hooked cross, the artist has transformed the motif into a cross where the off-kilter vertical and horizontal lines meet. Historical references to divinity and to the world respectively are among the implied meanings as is crucifixion.

Venezuelan native Carlos Cruz-Diez's (1923- ) Op Art experiments with vibrant color and linear overlays creating dizzying optical experiences. He overlaps shifting vertical lines containing narrow fields of intense color to provoke disorienting visual perceptions. These techniques create patterns that call to mind the “moiré effect.” The “effect” creates images that don’t appear stable but rather seem to shift or morph as we attempt to “read” the situational relationships.

“Latin American Masters: The Quest of Printmaking” illustrates the rich breadth and continuing contributions that Latin American artists make to our collective heritage and their own. This exhibit is a beneficial offering and one that encourages understanding of and appreciation for a dynamic, creative and growing segment of American society and the greater Charlotte region.

Print exhibition

LaCa Projects, Latin American Contemporary Art, is a platform dedicated to the presentation, development, and promotion of Latin American art and culture; 1429 Bryant St. Charlotte; open 10 to 6 Tuesday-Friday and 12 to 5 Saturday or by appointment through Aug. 21. Contact LaCa Projects at info@lacaprojects.com; 704-837-1688.