The Rise of Latin American Artists in 2022 | Limna

The Rise of Latin American Artists in 2022

In comparison to their European or American counterparts, the work of Hispanic artists has comparatively been largely unrecognised in the art world. Of course, there are plenty of household names with the likes of; Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Ana Mendieta, Lucio Fontana or Alfredo Jaar, but in comparison to the high level of incredible work being produced, the number of widely recognised artists of Latin American descent is far too few. It goes without saying that the lack of recognition is in no way a reflection of the calibre of the work, simply a deeply ingrained racist preferentialism that has only begun to be truly overturned in the past few years.

This change can be seen in a rise of institutions being established that focus on the work of hispanic artists. Last year, the New York City gallery, Calderón, was founded with a focus on artists from Latin America and the diaspora. And in summer this year The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture opened in Riverside, California. Prior to this, the only institution dedicated to any Latin American art was The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) which was founded in 1996 in Long Beach, California.

Across the Pacific, in 2002, Tate appointed Cuauhtémoc Medina as their first Associate Curator of Latin American Art, and the Whitney Museum appointed their first curator of Latinx art, Marcela Guerrero, in 2018. The shifts in institutions still feels sluggish though, (aside from two film series, in 2015, and 2017), MoMA’s last exhibition focusing purely on Latin American art, New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006: Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions, was in 2007.

The USA is currently celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and we’d be remiss not to recognise that the word Hispanic is tricky; attempting to cover a myriad of different identities in one blanket term, without allowing room to recognise the integral diversities within. As such, we thought it pertinent to clarify three terms commonly used interchangeably with Hispanic: Hispanic refers to people from or connected with Spanish-speaking countries, especially those in Latin America. Latinx (a gender neutral version of Latino and Latina) is a term reserved for those of Latin American descent (including non spanish-speaking countries) living in the US. Lastly, Latin American covers all who hail from Latin American countries.

We took Hispanic Heritage Month as a jumping off point to explore Latin American artists. And though this steps away from recognising those based purely in the United States, we couldn’t resist sharing these talented artists. Hispanic heritage month is about celebrating identity, and these three artists certainly do that in their art.

Maxwell Alexandre (He/Him)

B. 1990, Brazil. Based in Rio de Janeiro
Represented by A Gentil Carioca
Momentum on Limna +34%

Having only participated in his first exhibition in 2014, Alexandre has experienced the type of rapid recognition rarely seen. In 2019 he was already selected by Brazilian Forbes as one of the country’s most successful under 30 year olds, and in 2021 as a Deutsche Bank artist of the year. A professional roller-skater turned artist, he came into contact with fine art slightly later in life. Often, his impressive large-scale paintings are created on paper, weaving in pop cultural symbols, references to viral social media images and critiquing social issues. This can be seen in his exhibition Pardo É Papel which toured widely, including with David Zwirner and Palais de Tokyo. His works are populated by faceless figures, and he often shifts the narrative by inverting the race of subjects in his images, effortlessly highlighting hypocrisy. Having grown up – and still living – in a favela, he is expertly placed to explore injustices: describing contemporary art and philosophy as “…fields of maximum privilege” as in, “…you need to have your flesh fed so that you can feed your spirit”. He is part of collections in the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), The Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, The Museum of Art of Rio, MAC Lyon and the Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Hulda Guzmán (She/Her)

b. 1984, Dominican Republic. Based between Santo Domingo and Samaná
Represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, Alexander Berggruen, Dio Horia, and Machete
Momentum on Limna +4%

To those of us who inhabit concrete jungles, the bright, technicolour joyful works of Guzmán featuring real jungles is almost envy-inducing. Lusting after these idyllic green spaces packed with tropical plants, dotted with playing people living in harmony with animals and mischievous mythical creatures. Blending surrealism, Mexican muralism and modernism she creates fun narratives: there is such a celebration of life in her works that it is impossible not to be moved. On the humour in her work, Guzmán states: “When we’re able to laugh at ourselves and just be part of the joke, everything is just so much better. I think that’s one of the wonderful things we as humans can bring to life.” Of note, she was featured in the Dominican pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale and this year Stephen Friedman Gallery presented her works at both Art Basel and Frieze Seoul. Her work is in collections at the He Art Museum (HEM), China; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Dallas Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP); and Centro Leon Jimenes, Puerto Rico, among others.

Jill Mulleady (She/Her)

b.1980, Uruguay. Raised in Argentina, based in Los Angeles.
Represented by Gladstone Gallery, Freedman Fitzpatrick and Galerie Neu
Momentum on Limna +7%

Mulleady paints unsettling surrealist, otherworldly works where her figures often sport sickly hues, or are wounded. Each of her works tells a story, and demands contemplative attention. She weaves in references to historical paintings, artists, poets, and writers, or features them directly. Her background in theatre shines through in her approach to her work and can be seen in her series and in exhibitions, which employ added installations to create a dialogue between the work, the viewer and the space itself. Notable exhibitions include a public installation for the Whitney Museum (2020-2021), a group exhibition at the Hammer Museum and her inclusion in the 58th Venice Biennale; the last five years has seen a significant increase in recognition for her work. Her work is in collections at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; Institute of Contemporary Arts, Miami; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian, Washington D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles; Aishti Foundation, Beirut, among others.

The work of these artists is shaped by both where they come from and where they are now. The same could be said for most of us; where we come from is an integral part of our identity, and this should be proudly claimed and celebrated more often than the month that some are given each year.

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