‘Our Countries Might Have Borders But the Minds of Artists Don’t’: A New Houston Exhibition Explores What Latin American Art Means

"Homage to Latin American Masters" is on view now at Art of the World Gallery.

Roberto Matta, My Infinite is the Instant, 1997. Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.
Roberto Matta, My Infinite is the Instant(1997). Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

A handful of recent museum exhibitions have drawn long overdue in-depth to attention to some of Latin America’s greatest artists, including Tarsila do Amaral at MoMA and Frida Kahlo at the Brooklyn Museum. The Whitney, too, just announced “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945,” slated for early 2020, which promises to shine light on few more names.

Nevertheless, many of the most influential artists from Latin America remain unfamiliar to US audiences. Now, One good jumping off point, however, is the new exhibition “Homage to the Great Latin-American Masters” at Houston’s Art of the World Gallery. The cross-generational cross-section of Latin American art on view features works by 12 artists from eight countries, including the likes of Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Fernando Botero, alongside lesser-known artists such as Beatriz Gonzalez, Fernando De Szyszlo, and Oswaldo Guayasamín, among others. 

Fernado Botero, Woman with Flower. Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

Fernado Botero, Woman with Flower. Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

“‘Latin-American Artist’ has countless meanings,” said gallery owner Mauricio Vallejo. “Latin America offers bountiful philosophies, cultures, history, and interests that lead to amazing and diverse creations.” The show’s nearly 30 works encompass paintings, drawings, mixed media, printmaking, photography and sculpture—and are arranged thematically rather than chronologically, allowing the wealth of visions and ideas to both converse and collide. 

Installation view of "Homage to the Great Latin-American Masters" (2019). Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

Installation view of “Homage to the Great Latin-American Masters” (2019). Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

Among the works on view are the Cubist experiments of Afro-Cuban painter Wifredo Lam; Roberto Matta’s brilliant, surreal, and somewhat terrifying landscapes; and Tamayo’s and Guayasamín’s return to indigenous motifs and symbols. 

Some unexpected highlights include the vivid canvases of 87-year-old Colombian painter Beatriz Gonzalez, whose bold and bright compositions operate as vehicles for social and political critique. (Gonzalez is also currently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.)  

Beatriz González, A la Salida del Camerino (1989). Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

Beatriz González, A la Salida del Camerino (1989). Courtesy of Art of the World Gallery.

“Our countries might have borders, but the minds of the Latin American artists do not,” said Vallejo. “We want visitors to understand that these master artists were pioneers in their countries, but that Latin American art is so rich and diverse that there is no single title or word that can accurately describe it.” 

Homage to the Great Latin-American Masters” is on view at Art of the World in Houston through January 11, 2020. 


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