Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Otero has pushed against the art historical narrative with seductive canvases and dynamic objects made with porcelain and steel. The artist consistently tests the elasticity of venerable art canons while oscillating between familial memories and the immense gesture of painting and sculpture. Mining the expansive territory of these artistic traditions, Otero offers a trove of ideas that have informed not only the content of his work but also its material composition and processes. Angel Otero: Everything and Nothing chronicles the evolution of Otero’s practice to date and features four distinct bodies of work created between 2006 and 2015, including his iconic skin and transfer paintings, early work created using silicon and collage, as well as sculpture.
In Everything and Nothing all aspects of the artist’s practice are on view. The exhibition brings together work created nearly over a decade, allowing viewers to consider the overt themes, as well as more subtle underpinnings, of the artist’s oeuvre. The artist’s work and intentions are pronounced and demystified, and what initially appear as disparate lines of production and conceptual engagement suddenly coalesce into a continuous extrapolation of imagery that is at once intimate and iconic. Otero digs deep into the corporeal, cultural, and intellectual repositories that have shaped him as an artist; Otero’s use of these repositories allows the artist to cast wide the vast net of art history in an effort to assert his own place along its tangled and complex narrative. This struggle has sustained his creative endeavors over the past decade and promises to propel him well into the future.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the monograph, Angel Otero (2017), considers Otero’s process-driven practice. Whether made on canvas or with porcelain and steel, Otero’s creations mine the fissures of art-historical canons, as well as the personal histories that they evoke. Angel Otero’s works, while abstract, are embedded with deeply personal narratives. While the artist rejects the literal nature of narrative, it is explicit in the work, particularly in his early figurative paintings and his more recent bodies of “transfer paintings,” created using coal dust and charcoal on linen. Occupying a liminal space between abstraction and figurative work, Otero’s transfer paintings provide viewers with a glimpse into the landscape of the artist’s familial memories.
This publication includes an introduction and essay by the organizing curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as contributions by scholars in the field of contemporary art. The monograph also features color and black-and-white images of the works presented in the exhibition, a bibliography of general reading, and a chronology of the artist’s life and work. The overall scope and comprehensive material featured in the accompanying catalog promise to serve as a scholarly reader and a critical and lasting document. As a feature of the monograph, the artist will be commissioned to create a special-edition poster and cover.