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Beatriz Milhazes, Pacaembu, 2004 (detail)

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Latin American Art
April 5-18, 2006

Contemporary Latin American art is alive with exploding forms, psychedelic decoration, and colorful folk designs. From Cuba and Mexico to Argentina and Chile, a new generation of artists is tackling the influences of colonialism and globalization in a variety of media — including video, photography, painting, and installation. After surveying the scene at large, we highlight the legendary Dr. Lakra, who draws transformative tattoos onto vintage advertisements, and interview Fabian Marcaccio, whose massive, mutating paintings utilize digital technology. For our media pick, we examine a new catalog of significant works from the renowned Daros-Latinamerica collection, and in our reviews section we explore a garden of earthly delights, a sadistic baby boutique, and a playground for fleshy cannibals.

  Written by's funniest writers, The CollegeHumor Guide to College covers the topics that normal university handbooks fail to mention. This hilarious, ultra-realistic guide to higher education makes the perfect gift for any high schooler looking forward to the mythical best four years of life, and a fun companion reader for any current college student.

Foster Plans Europe's Tallest Skyscraper
(Times, March 22)
British architect Norman Foster has designed the 118-story Moscow City Tower, which, when completed in 2010, will stand as Europe's tallest building. The tower will be a central component of the new financial district being developed in Moscow near the Kremlin; it will be a mixed-use building, featuring office space, apartments, a hotel, and an ice rink. The eco-conscious project will also collect rain and snow in order to reduce the building's water waste.

Matthew Barney Reveals Influences
(New York, April 3)
With a new film, Drawing Restraint 9, that features himself and his partner, Icelandic music guru Björk, multimedia artist Matthew Barney sat for an interview to discuss the people and work that have shaped his singular vision. Among others, Barney professed a fondness for the Butthole Surfers, his Cremaster collaborator Richard Serra, and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are.

Anderson Named Head of IAM
(Indianapolis Star, March 27)
Maxwell Anderson, the former director of the Whitney Museum, will be heading up the Indianapolis Museum of Art starting in June. The recently renovated museum has an annual operating budget of $20 million and an endowment of $325 million. Anderson resigned from his post at the Whitney in 2003, following a disagreement with the museum's board of directors over a proposed Rem Koolhaas-designed expansion.

Gehry Unveils Jewelry Line
(Los Angeles Times, March 28)
Having mastered buildings, architect Frank Gehry is trying his hand at bling. Laurence Fishburne, Owen Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Felicity Huffman were among the celebrities hitting Rodeo Drive to celebrate the launch of Gehry's new line of jewelry and "tabletop items" for Tiffany & Co. The collection is comprised of six series titled after favorite Gehry motifs: Fish, Torque, Axis, Fold, Equus, and Orchid. A pair of fish cufflinks costs $275, while a collar made of white-gold mesh and pearls will set buyers back $750,000.

Melbourne's street art gets whitewashed
more »

Is an art market crash inevitable? more »

Art and memory collide at Berlin Biennial
more »

Kentucky collectors create hotel of contemporary art more »

Hadid to build policy institute at American University of Beirut more »

Robert Adams claims Deutsche Börse Prize more »

Worn shoes and detritus distinguish Beck's finalists more »

New game lets you be a legal graffiti god
more »

Chinese contemporary art sale at Sotheby's sets record prices more »

Scottish sculptor Ian Hamilton Finlay dies at 80 more »

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[ Latin American Art ]


assume vivid astro focus / Miguel Calderòn / Guillermo Kuitca / Rubén Ortiz Torres

In an age of global art fairs and international biennials, defining "Latin American art" is increasingly difficult, with artists living and working in different countries and gaining inspiration from multiple traditions. But this has always been the case for Latin America — the crossroads of European, African, and indigenous cultures. Where this hybridization once led to a colorful colonial baroque, today it informs a collision of street culture, Carnival, digital technology, hip-hop, and playful sensuality.

With a long history of modernist painting and revolutionary art, Mexico continues to produce some of the biggest hitters on the global art scene. Gabriel Orozco's post-minimalist sculptures of paradoxical everyday objects have led to several international retrospectives. Dr. Lakra traces his mischievous tattoo patterns onto vintage pinup shots, polluting the supposed innocence of another era. Rubèn Ortiz Torres is also a master of contrast — his videos and photography meld mythical motifs and symbols of technological progress into 21st-century magical realism. Mexico City-based Fernanda Brunet paints pop-colored fragments, swirls, and comics-style explosions to create fantastical scenes that evoke Japanese landscapes and erotic images. Her latest works celebrate Mexican kitsch in interpretations of pastry decoration done in fiberglass and resin.

Brazilian Eli Sudbrack, who designs florid, hyper-colorful wall murals under the name assume vivid astro focus, updates the baroque with psychedelic style. Fellow Carioca Beatriz Milhazes reinterprets colonial Baroque ornamentation with vivid paintings of spirals and floral motifs, while Vik Muniz takes gustatory delight in drawing with various foods — chocolate syrup, caviar, jam — and photographing his mouth-watering masterpieces. Os Gemeos, which means "the twins" in Portuguese, have fused tropicalismo with graffiti, bombing Rio with their brand of urban street expression.

Hailing from Argentina, Guillermo Kuitca literally explodes images depicting Europe's architectural heritage, coloring the abstracted fragments of opera houses and theaters with a vibrant palette. Another Argentinian, Fabian Marcaccio, loads impossibly thick layers of paint onto digitally rendered murals.

The Cuban art scene has had to contend with government intervention, censorship, and limited mobility of artists. But the Havana Bienal, begun in 1984, ignited a renewal in the island's contemporary art. The trio known as Los Carpinteros ("The Carpenters") has built fantastical tent cities and surrealist sculptures, gaining renown in Europe and the US. Carlos Garaicoa's installations, models, films, and photographs explore the material legacy of political idealism.

With galleries like Fortes Vilaça in São Paulo and kurimanzutto in Mexico City keeping up an international profile, and with large-scale exhibitions like InSite encouraging cross-border artistic innovation, the new generation of Latin American artists benefits from more support and celebration than ever. (JK)

The 9th Havana Bienal, featuring 158 Cuban and foreign artists, is currently on view in various locations throughout Havana. It continues through April 27.

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Steven Gontarski

PKM Gallery
Now through April 8

  Combining classical compositions with contemporary materials, Steven Gontarski's sexually ambiguous sculptures conjure imaginary prophets and warped mythologies through fiberglass and high-gloss paint. The Prophet Dogwood and the Alpha Numeric Order III recalls Dalí's fluid figures, depicting corporeal form in a state of entropy. Again, with Prophet Doubt I Gontarski's work brings to mind, through seamless perfection and contrapposto, a futuristic David. Gontarksi eschews any trace of artistic fabrication. A selection of equally slick drawings and paintings underscores the tensions between presence and absence paramount to the artist's work. (HV)

Raqib Shaw: Garden of Earthly Delights

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Now through April 16

  It is fitting that Miami, the American city that specializes in hedonism and lush foliage, is the site of Raqib Shaw's first solo US museum exhibition. His highly ornamental large-scale paintings depict humans, animals, and mutant creatures fornicating with abandon in a tableaux inspired by Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. Their gleaming, delicately colored surfaces resemble cloisonné. Shaw refers back to the decorative traditions of his South Asian heritage, and he rummages through natural-history encyclopedias for source material. Seeking a new, hybrid mode of painting to express his encompassing vision, he melds glitter, jewels, and automotive enamel paints, linking his practice to another British exoticist, Chris Ofili. (MW)

Shi Jinsong: Na Zha Baby Boutique
New York

Chambers Fine Art
Now through April 15

  Shi Jinsong's Na Zha Baby Boutique is a withering satire of global consumer culture and its manifestation in China. Reimagining Na Zha, a mischievous mythic toddler whose entire body is a weapon, as the inspiration for a new line of baby products, Shi's deadly Boutique includes a stainless-steel Na Zha Stroller, Na Zha Walker, and Na Zha Cradle as well as detailed blueprints and photographs of his designs. The eccentric designs maximize the lethal capability of the nascent cutthroat capitalist: the stroller has a spiked handrail and brass-knuckle footrests, the walker is a concentric fan of razor-sharp blades, and a mobile made of knives hangs playfully from the cradle's canopy. (AM)

Dana Schutz: Paintings 2001-2005
Waltham, Massachusetts

Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University
Now through April 9

  This survey of works by prodigious painter Dana Schutz contains visual riots of undiluted, electrifying color. Frank, the last man on earth, from Schutz's first solo show, appears here as a proboscis monkey in a state of de-evolution, as primordial jungle closes in around him. Schutz expands the realm of hypothetical characters to include social figures in Party, in which Condoleezza Rice's bobbed haircut rests atop an amalgamation of suits, and Men's Retreat, where CEOs such as Dennis Kozlowski build relationships through touchy-feely activities. Employing painting for her personal vision, Schutz engages sculpture metaphorically through her raised, thick brushstrokes and thematically through her cannibalistic humanoids molding chunks of flesh into recycled body parts. (CEK)

Beware of a Holy Whore

Galerie Chantal Crousel
Now through April 15

  With a racy Fassbinder title, this group show takes a jab at art's holier-than-thou image. Marcel Broodthaers' 1964 invitation on display sets the tone: "Me too, I asked myself if I could not sell something and succeed in life," while fictional artist Reena Spaulings' series of painted bills have the values conspicuously erased from their surfaces. Andy Warhol's piss paintings defile the sanctified canvas, in contrast to the seemingly precious sparkles on Robert Malaval's acrylics and symbolic French characters in Sigmar Polke's take on revolutionary wrapping paper. Works by Michael Krebber and Josephine Pryde join this satirical show that will leave you smiling. (MS)

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[ Dr. Lakra ]

Dr. Lakra

Dr. Lakra's designs can be glimpsed on real and imagined bodies. The Oaxaca-based tattoo artist satisfies those eager to get inked (he once took appointments in kurimanzutto's booth at Art Basel), while simultaneously embellishing the fictional flesh of fetishized characters found in vintage magazines from the '50s, old toy figurines, and occasional non-figurative objects. Born Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez, Lakra's edgy nom de plume is a play on the Spanish lacra, which refers to a blemish, scar, or laceration resulting from a wound, as well as to a socially disgraceful group or individual. His imaginary clientele includes pinup girls, athletes, and ad models, upon and around whom he inscribes hallucinatory, folk-inspired patterns, images, and bits of text. These trappings eerily serve to give his subjects the appearance of being oblivious to the tattoos, which appear as externally imposed decoration.

Lakra's compositions pirate Mexican, French, and North American images — augmented by his drawings, these pictures are infused with the suggestion that simply altering appearances brings new relationships into view. A pair of muscular wrestlers morphs into thugs in the guise of superheroes; the effect is both homoerotic and emasculating. A negligee-clad young girl reclining suggestively on a bed becomes a clown-faced suicide victim attended by the angel of death — who looks like a stereotypical elderly Mexican woman — floating beside her head. Despite recent appearances at such big-name venues as the Saatchi Gallery, Tate Modern, and Matthew Marks Gallery, where during the summer of 2004 his work appeared in Deliver Us from Evil alongside that of artists such as the Chapman Brothers and R. Crumb, Dr. Lakra remains something of a mystery. (SK)

Kate MacGarry in London presents its second exhibition of Dr. Lakra June 9 - July 15.

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[ Fabian Marcaccio ]


Fabian Marcaccio

Paul Laster converses with Argentine artist Fabian Marcaccio about his work and his concepts of painting.

AK: Where were you born and educated?

FM: I was born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1963. It's an industrial city with a huge river, like the Mississippi River, running crazily by it. I studied art there and then in Buenos Aires. I studied printmaking and painting in different workshops as an apprentice. Later on, I studied philosophy at the university in Rosario. I started showing my work in galleries and got a scholarship to travel to Europe or America. I chose New York and came here in 1986.

AK: What was you first big break in New York?

FM: I was in a group show at Althea Viafora Gallery, which was one of the first galleries to show Matthew Barney. I made a painting that articulated a corner with unpredictable pictorial activity going up and down. Afterwards, I worked with the independent curators Collins & Milazzo, who were organizing high-profile exhibitions in New York and Europe.

AK: Was that when you started showing canvases that had manipulated stretcher bars?

FM: That was my first recognizable body of work in America. I called it The Altered Genetics of Painting. I was trying to create a new situation where painting would forget the reductivist period of the '70s and the pastiche and simulacra periods of the '80s. I was proposing an animated or complex or macro period for painting. Painting would have to deal with all of its levels of complexity from context to size to materiality and still be painting. Not just technically painting; it could involve photography, printmaking, and sculpture to become an amalgam. At that time, I used the titles The Altered Genetics of Painting and Mutual Betrayal, which implied elements fighting with each other. Then I went into Paint Zones, Time-Paintants, and Paintants.

AK: It seems that you were conceptually dealing with the nature of a painting. Like Frank Stella, or Robert Ryman in a less brutal way, you seemed to be taking the painting off the wall by focusing on its physical structure or armature and bringing its physical nature into the architectural space surrounding it.

keep reading the interview »

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  The Hours: Visual Arts of Contemporary Latin America
Hans-Michael Herzog, Sebastián Lopéz, and Eugenio Valdés Figueroa
Hatje Cantz Publishers

Presenting the work of 30 challenging artists, The Hours is a window onto contemporary Latin American art of the past 20 years. Organized by curator Sebastián Lopéz for a recent exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the work was selected from the Daros-Latinamerica collection. The show's title alludes to the work of Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, and quotes from his writings are spread throughout the publication, which explores Borgesian themes such as the relation of time to art. A wide range of media, including Ernesto Neto's tactile sculptures, Marta María Pérez Bravo's photographs of imaginary rituals, Juan Manuel Echavarría's videos of victims singing their own tragic tales, and Betsabeé Romero's painted car filled with 10,000 dried roses, are dynamically illustrated and discussed. (PL)

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Cover Art
Pacaembu, 2004
Oil on canvas
105 3/4 X 135 in./268.6 x 343 cm
Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Bryony Roberts
Andrew Maerkle
Greg Zinman
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Marlyne Sahakian
Sarah Kessler

Naomi Beckwith
Justin Conner
Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Annette Ferrara
Leigh Goldstein
Katherine Gunderson
Jessica Kraft
Catherine Krudy
Katie Kurtz
Melissa Lo
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Shiraz Randeria
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Hannah Vaughan
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Morgan Croney
Jules Gaffney

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
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Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

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