Latinos Set the Art World Alight
While Latino culture is well known for the vibrant music it produces, what is perhaps less well known is the enormous contribution it has made to the visual arts. There is a long and rich history of painting and sculpture, and modern Latino artists continue to produce work that delights, challenges and illuminates. Here are some of the best Latino artists that are with us today.
José Bedia was born in 1959 in Havana, Cuba. A rising talent, he completed his residency with the Ford Foundation in New York, prior to going back to Havana in 1985. Upon his return, he was called up for military service, and spent time in Angola. It was during this time that he found inspiration in Palo Monte, an Afro-Caribbean religion which had its roots in the Congo basin of central Africa. After leaving the military, he moved to Miami, where he explored his Afro-Caribbean roots through his art, as well as incorporating Native American symbols and the myths of other indigenous cultures. He continues to produce stunning artwork to this day. There was recently a major retrospective at the Miami Art Museum, showcasing 35 of his most important works.
Romero Britto is known for his vibrant and colorful pieces, which combine images of popular culture with strong Cubist influences that pay homage to Picasso and Braque. Born in Brazil in 1963, Britto has been spent most of his life in Europe and the United States. You may recognize his work – he has received commissions to produce artwork for many high visibility ad campaigns, including Absolut Vodka, IBM, Disney, Pepsi and Apple. He is widely collected by people including Andre Agassi, Michael Jordan, the Guggenheims, the Rothschilds and the Kennedys. You can find out more about Romero Britto on the Park West Gallery blog.
Frank Romero has been one of the leading lights of the Los Angeles arts community for over 40 years. A Mexican American, Romero is known for his large-scale murals, including 15 public murals on display in the Los Angeles area. If you have driven down Highway 101, you cannot fail to have seen his mural “Going to the Olympics,” which he produced for the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival. Romero has been widely exhibited in the US, as well as in Europe and Japan – including at the Smithsonian and the Carnegie Museum in California. You can see his newest mural “The L.A. River” at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.
Soraida Martinez hails from New York City, having been born in Harlem in 1956, and traces her family roots back to Puerto Rico. She is an abstract expressionist artist, part of the American post-World War II movement whose best-known proponent is probably Jackson Pollock. Abstract expressionism focuses on spontaneous and subconscious creation, and Martinez has taken that forward into a hard-edge painting style that she originated called Verdadism, a portmanteau term combining Spanish and English and meaning “truth theory”. These mixed-media paintings are accompanied by written social commentaries based upon her personal experiences, and address modern issues such as feminism, racism, sexism, abortion and relationships.