A Talk With Angel Otero
Angel Otero’s painting at Kavi Gupta Chicago
Angel Otero looks to erase, or more apropos in his case, cover up the narrative within his paintings. I had the opportunity to meet and interview this rising star in the international art scene and was impressed by how down to earth and personable he was. During this meeting Otero may have very well change the way I look at making paintings with the simple phrase, “I can give a shit about your grandmother”. This might be a shock out of context so let me explain. For the hour we were together and talking about his artwork a couple keywords continued to come up; one was ‘Narrative’ and the other was ‘Sentimentality’. Apparently someone had approached Angel and, in reference to his work at the time, said ‘I can give a shit about your Grandmother’ Angel explained to me that it was said much more pleasantly than that, but that was the point. It got me thinking about sentimentality, how it drives some artists and the art they make. I don’t think Angel’s work is void of sentiment or narrative but it is a very intriguing position to stand, and the work does speak for itself. With Otero, it is an impressive task to attempt to remove sentimentality.
Angel Otero’s paintings at Kavi Gupta Chicago
While much of Otero’s works have been influenced by memories based in photographs and other family memorabilia combined with the gestures of 20th century painting, this latest exhibition highlights the artist’s unique process as a form of narrative in itself. Otero’s ‘deformation’ approach to painting his works, first across glass and then once dry, flaying the dried paint and reconstructing the composition anew across large canvasses, is representative of how the artist perceives the process of reconfiguring both personal and historical narratives. While one might identify nods to historical painters like El Greco or Van Dyck, one just as easily can recognize in Otero’s work the urgency found in Gerhard Richter or Baselitz – artists whose use of personal subject matter was an initial means to creating a dialogue about painting as a process. Otero’s work is always negotiating between the individual and art history.(Kavi Gupta)
As an artist I am trying to get new ideas all the time by talking to people and collaborating with others. My Portrait Project has brought me and my work into the homes of hundreds of Chicagoans. ChicagoArts has brought art from Chicago to people all over.