About Us

Amor América Gallery was established in 2015 to promote the work of highly recognised or so-called “consolidated” modern and contemporary Latin American Masters, at international level.

Its headquarters in Rome, Porto Santo Stefano and Montevideo – the latter in close cooperation with Juan Palleiro Galería de Arte – represent a proposal of absolute novelty in the three countries.

Amor América Gallery also provides qualified advice, to private and public collectors, on the work of the Masters its represent in the context of the rich Latin American culture, with special attention to the visual arts; the Gallery also participates in prestigious international Latin American art auctions and market-exhibitions.

Short Essay: Art and Culture: Contemporary Latin American painting - by Roberto Aguerre Ravizza

 

Contemporary Latin American painting

I

The activity of Amor América Gallery, seated in Rome, Brussels and Montevideo, is set within the framework described below.

Historical coordinates.

Before the wig and coat there were arterial rivers:

there were mountains, with deep waves where condor and snow seemed immobile:

There was humidity and thickness, thunders yet unnamed, planetary pampas.

So, the pre-Columbian America in the piercing look of Pablo Neruda. At the time of discovery, at the end of the year 1400, there were three great centers of Latin American civilization: the Aztecs in Mexico, the Mayas in Mesoamerica, Guatemala, and part of Yucatan, west of Honduras and El Salvador, finally the Incas in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, northern Chile and northwestern Argentina. Three empires composed of a constellation of people. The Maya, for example, were great astronomers. Their calendar was more accurate than the current Gregorian calendar. They all were capable of remarkable architectural works and hydraulic engineering, so important in the culture of corn that provided nourishment for millions of people when in Europe the largest city had only two hundred thousand inhabitants. They also grew tomatoes, cocoa, a large variety of potatoes, beans, avocados, pumpkins, pineapples and so on. Excellent in science and art, they did not know the wheel, gunpowder or horses, which were so important in war. They knew little or nothing about oversea sailing and they were highly vulnerable to diseases carried by the conquerors. With these premises, it is clear that this people were to quickly loose the famous War of Conquest, followed by the occupation and subsequent colonization, like the same Neruda says: Deep, submerged America mother of metals. You were burned, they bit you, you were martyred, you were corroded, then they rot you. … As soon as the colonial period started, the empires of Spain, Portugal, England, France, Holland and others, representing colonial powers fighting to gain a position, at different titles, in America, initiated a race for grabbing rich possessions, the so called “overseas territories”. In the same period, there was a form of back-slavery of people captured in Africa, in a period when slavery was already considered as an old practice in Europe; it was as if men were not able to give up the subjugation of other men, and re-proposed it in different contexts. Indeed, the entire economic system of the colonial era, not only in America, was based on this form of neo slavery. Slavery was rather common in the Central and South American colonies when lots of property were sold together with a number of animals – horses, cows, sheep – a musical instrument, and “a young black”, sometimes with a young child in her arms. The term “quilombo” commonly used today in Rio de la Plata, means brothel. This word was also used in the ‘800 to mark the Brazilian regions where slaves of African origin organized their own communities made up of people seeking freedom and hard fighting for this. In a word it was necessary to eliminate those brothels. Thus, Brazil is the last country in the world to formally abolish slavery in 1888 with the famous Ley Aurea issued by Lady Isabel, the princess named “A Redemptive” by the gesture that marked the end of the Brazilian Empire of Portuguese origin, forcing her into exile to France, where she died in 1921.

II

Let us now, quickly, turn to Latin America of the ’70s. First of all it is important to consider that today we are fully aware that Latin America was the scene of a war which was not cold at all, where, among very beautiful things, regimes called “Gorilla” flourished. In Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile there were particularly violent scenarios. The “disappearing” of people was commonly used in that period. From a cultural point of view, in the context of the global conflict between the two blocks of that period, the so-called boom of Latin American literature takes place, with writers of the caliber of the French-born Cuban Alejo Carpentier, the Mexican Octavio Paz, the Argentine Jorge Luis Borges, the Paraguayan Augusto Roa Bastos, the Brazilian Guimaraes Rosa, the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa and José Maria Arguedas, the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez and the Uruguayan Juan Carlos Onetti, and before them there was the splendid Uruguayan Felisberto Hernández, father of the season of Latin American culture called magical realism, according to Italo Calvino. Much earlier, in Mexico, in the second half of the seventeenth century, a very special woman, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz lived, excellent both in the creation of exquisite sweets and in the composition of wonderful works including the famous, now classic, baroque sonnets developed with its own original characteristics during the Spanish Golden Age. The group made up of the leading figures of the above indicated boom, supported by a large number of intellectuals of various origin, devoted themselves to many activities, and represented the spearhead of a intelligentsia that opens a new course to Latin American culture when the Cold war terminated. You could say that the spirit, that is the thinking of Latin America, blooms and alights with a new life when it gets free from the remaining semi-colonial dependence, especially in the field of ideas, when the conquest of vital political-democratic spaces consolidates and for more than twenty years it becomes the pride of the Region, proving once again that policy, sociology and economics are undeniable expression of a given culture. Roughly speaking, the governments of contemporary Latin America have the clear objective of seeking a more balanced interaction between the cultures of pre-Columbian, African descendants, those of Spanish , Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew origins and other groups from all over the world, often forced to migrate by war and famine, arriving there in successive waves of migration between ‘800 and’ 900. In Uruguay and Argentina they say that while the Mexicans descended from the Aztecs and Peruvian from Incas, the people of the Rio de la Plata descend from the ships. Over two hundred years have elapsed since the first movements for Latin American independence in ‘800, therefore, in a relatively short time a substantial change occurred, from the long colonial era to the present era of independence , although there are still some semi colonial residues. How is the special Latin American cultural identity built up? How is it possible, for example, that a person born in Uruguay, feels at the same time a member of the great Latin American homeland? First of all because in the whole region Spanish and Portuguese-Brazilian is generally spoken, two sisters languages. Then because the great Latin American leaders like Simon Bolivar, Jose Marti, Jose Gervasio Artigas, Bernardo O’Higgins and Salvador Allende, to name a just few, were always aware that in addition to generating responses to the problems of their own countries, it was essential to create at the same time the Great Latin American Region, for which they fought and died. Today, the dreams of the founders seem to come true. A statement clearly expresses the vision of a Latin American person: “We must be convinced that things can change and that the revolution we support is an absolute necessity.”The statement is by Jorge Bergoglio. These are the roots, the cultural imprint of a Pope, heritage of humanity, that interprets the Gospel in Latin American key.

III

We talked about language as a unifying factor. Now let’s try to imagine what it means for a person living in Rio de la Plata to read “El siglo de las luces” by the mentioned Alejo Carpentier, in its original Spanish version, including echoes of the French Revolution in the Caribbean, where people were suddenly terrified by authentic French guillotines transported by shady ships from the Old World. A great lesson of history submerged in the tropical heat, with inevitable and exciting love stories. It was like taking part in a fairy tale which does not take place in another world, but in your own linguistic and cultural universe. This kind of experiences provide a long lasting and very peculiar sense of involvement. It is interesting to note that Latin American people perceive their own country of origin as naturally embedded in a much broader context, where about six hundred thirty million people are estimated to live. Vice versa, being Europeans in Europe is not so obvious. In Latin America a truly magical realism hangs over everything. The New World is actually as old as the rest of the world, only at the moment of the discovery it represented a landscape of things that were not ever seen in the West, and which for centuries had been waiting for the baptismal word able to join the two shores of the oceans. And Latin American people were able to get it, not through a single story or a group of them, but a whole literature they produced in the two prevailing languages. Let’s come back to our topic, that is Modern and Contemporary Latin American Painting, object of the activity of Amor América Gallery which is inextricably interwoven in the cultural context outlined above. As regards the market, high level auction houses such as Shoteby’s and Christie’s have been devoted specific sections to modern and contemporary Latin American art for many years. They collect precious works and make them available for collectors, curators and scholars from around the world, regularly proposed at auctions in London, Paris, Hong Kong and New York and other places, associated with publications including sales prices, which year after year reach very high figures thus representing a valuable indicator of the contributions of artists belonging to this culture, many of whom are in good health. As for international contemporary art marketing, Art Basel is the largest market exhibition in the world, with annual events in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong; for many years, they have been focusing their activity on modern and contemporary Latin American reaching very high rate of sales. Arco Madrid, the most important Spanish fair, devoted particular attention to contemporary Latin American art in 2015. Here follow the declarations of some participants: “The Latin American scene is one of the richest in ideas and creativity in the planet,” the Spanish artist Bernadi Roig says. “Latin America is the future,” says the curator Isabel Mignoni. The Spanish Pepe Cobo says: “… at present, Latin Americans should play the role of main actors and hosts of the international scene instead of being subject to undue arrogance and misplacement”. Of course, one should absolutely avoid arrogance in reverse, and be sure to develop even higher levels of intercultural dialogue with all the other past and present civilizations in the world, who have so much to say and from which we always have a lot to learn. Finally it is worth noting that in addition to qualified Latin American galleries operating in key countries like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, outside the Region there are galleries dealing exclusively with American artists, for example, in the United States, and now for the first time, with Amor América Gallery, in Italy, Belgium and Uruguay. We recognize that Latin American culture is an essential mosaic of a global, changing and in a way questionable net (Internet); the contemporary world is sometimes completely submerged in the Babel of febrile Internautes, representing a new culture aiming to overcome old barriers, still necessarily anchored to its own reality, but obtaining major visibility for better and for worse. Getting back into our main topic, it is necessary to point out that as from “Treatise on Painting “by Leonardo da Vinci we can state, without fear of contradiction, that painting is at the same time, a science, a technique and poetry or art tout court. It is important to note, not without astonishment, that today, the scientific aspect of painting is never, or almost ever, taken into due account. As regards my way of perceiving poetry, I think that it is closely linked to dreaming, namely that dream is an involuntary creation, which sometimes I can transpose into painting. It is as if my best works emerged by themselves, say they were involuntary, a dream from which I would not like to be waken. Something close to magic. When these works emerge it is as if somebody had dictated them to me and as if somebody was inside me. It is the same amazing creator of my dreams and nightmares, the one who knows the meaning of life and gradually distills it . This is poetry that is not possible to learn. We do not need to learn it because it is within each one of us. Science, technology and a natural carefully cultivated predisposition to sleep, this is the fulcrum of painting. I try to follow the creator of my dreams as best as I can, with one foot in the stirrup of science and the other in that of art. “I dream my painting. Then I paint my dream,” Van Gogh wrote. Here is another consideration by the filmmaker Akira Kurosawa: “When a man dreams he is a genius.” Genius, perhaps, is the one who is able stretch the barriers of a dream to the point of melting it with consciousness. It is when somebody or something makes us say “It’s a dream” and we are within it. Conscious and unconscious dreams dialogue and live in our works and in our in life. Certainly, dreams and nightmares unveil the biography of our souls, made of lights and shadows, doubts and certainties, of great spiritual achievements and painful losses, often great masterpieces.

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