Friday, January 29, 2010


September 3rd to October 31st 2009

The Bronx River Art Centre in New York and Museo de Arte in El Salvador, presented the following exhibit, in their MARTE Contemporáneo program:


Curator Jose Ruiz

(Peru | New York USA)

Artists: Karlos Carcamo

(El Salvador | New York, USA)

Esperanza Mayobre

(Venezuela | New York, USA)

Diego Medina

(Mexico | New York, USA)

Performance: Ghettoblaster – Irvin

Morazan ( El Salvador | New York, USA)

The exhibit Zonas de Trueque is a reflection of the Bartered States; sample presented in New York during May 2009, and in which pieces created in situ by Salvadorian artists, like Ronald Morán, Simón Vega, Walterio Iraheta and Danny Zavaleta, were displayed. These artists managed to link the art with the life framed within a socio-politic practice. Moreover, this exhibition, at MARTE, is the continuation of a cultural exchange between a group of Salvadorian artists and Latin American artists, living in New York, who have created their own dialogue and collaboration systems, all together, throughout 2009.

The opportunity to conduct the guardianship of two exhibitions, one in El Salvador and one in the United States, led to the possibility of carrying-out a series of investigations: the explorations of the paradigms of interdependence between the two countries, and the discovery of the elements, in-force, elaborated throughout the process of transformation, assimilation and resistance; the use of these postmodern elements as “needles” to explore the epidermis of migration and identity that homogenizes Latin-Americans living in the U.S.; and finally, the change in the idea of “going” (to display) with “coming back” (to display).

This idea of “coming back” (to display) led me to get in touch with three New York artists: Karlos Carcamo (El Salvador), Esperanza Mayobre (Venezuela) y Diego Medina (Mexico), whose countries of birth, evidently, withhold and share irresistible social, political, and cultural histories. In addition, these artists’ works embody offerings that connect with the Latin American cultural language that they developed and left behind.

Whenever a traveler returns to his/her country, he/she returns with numerous adventurous stories and anecdotes, recently acquired customs, and strange gifts from very exotic places. This leads us to believe that these experiences and memories were gathered through courtesy gestures or symbolic exchanges, but what really constitutes the brought-back-home element is something often interchangeable through a different set of rules, bets and commitments.

By means of co-existence, dependence and reciprocity investigations, Zonas de Trueque deconstructs the term exchange (swap) to dissipate the notion or idea that each exchange, even when agreed-upon by both parties, preserves the mutual interests and expectations. When stripped from its material function (tangible goods and services exchange), the very act of exchanging or swapping can also expose the global power unbalance, through which one party is at the mercy of the other, or is forced to act, to get stuck or to defend itself as to be able to progress.

Furthermore, the various mixed techniques used in Karlos Carcamo’s works, which include sculptures, painting, as well as photography, have turned towards minimalism and conceptual strategies; in the very same way that violence has focused on the urban plot. The facilities of Esperanza Mayobre decode the apparent objective transparency for obtaining different types of visas, which are needed to go into the U.S. This provides evidence for the anxiety and ambiguity that is generated in the person who requests a legal entry and residency in this country. The clear impossibilities found in the videos and works related to Diego Medina, indirectly influenced by Eduardo Galeano’s book, Las venas abiertas de América Latina: Cinco siglos de saqueo de un continente, mark the transformations when placed on the side of volume, and when the volume appears to be a double-strategy for political ideologies that can only exist as concepts.

Additionally, Irvin Morazan, a Salvadorian artist established in New York, presented, on the opening day at MARTE, a performance in the form of a ritual, through which he personified pre-Columbian deities that assumed the roles of “break-dance” dancers, and who fight in favor of hip-hop music, which was loudly played from sound devices that simulated headgear.

These weak operations systems are discovered through the creation of interdisciplinary works that assign the responsibility to each side of the equation. The collective sentiment of these facilities, performances, videos and objects allow us to get acquainted with the cultural language shift and with the process in which one should always be geared forward as to be knowledgeable, inquisitive and resourceful in this life experience’s reality. A reality that is not based on the separating differences or in the similar things that generate indifference, but in a fragile, yet densely integrated shared historical network that still needs to be deciphered, rooted out or mediated. If the role of the artist is to act like society’s critical voice, through questioning and the exposure of life’s unbalances, then this group of artists, along with the Salvadorian counterpart, have acted quite rightly in their pathway to create the necessary atmosphere as to inspire the rest of society, with the objective of contributing to a social change.

José Ruiz

José Ruiz is an artist and curator established in New York, who has moved between Lima, Brasilia, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. He has a Masters in Fine Arts in New Genres from the Art Institute in San Francisco, acquired in 2004. He began his curatorial practice in 2000, as part of an interdisciplinary and collaborative art project. Since then, Ruiz has been curator at around, 15 national and international exhibits, and has been co-curator of approximately 30 visual and performance art projects from various institutions and organizations, such as the Bronx River Art Center, the Queens Art Museum, PS122 Gallery, Decatur Blue, P.P.O.W. Gallery and Transformer Gallery.

The MARTE Contemporáneo program is sponsored by Mario Cader-Frech and the MARTE Contemporáneo Committee.

Oh Jung – Ja:

Feelings and Metaphors

June 16th – August 16th 2009

Korea’s Embassy in El Salvador and the “Museo de Arte”, present, in their MARTE Contemporáneo program, the following exhibit:

Oh Jung – Ja:

Feelings and Metaphors

Oh Jung – Ja is a prominent painter, in the world of Korean artists; she was born in 1945, year in which Japan’s occupation came to an end.

Whether her ancestors learnt the art of painting through Japanese instructors or were influenced by them, Oh Jung – Ja had the luck to learn this wonderful ability in a university of the now independent Japan.

In 1963, she began her painting career at the University of Ewha, and she specialized in oriental painting; since then, she has dedicated her time exclusively to painting. Moreover, Jung-Ja had the opportunity to learn about portraits from professors like Lee Yu-tae; about flower and bird painting from Cho Jung-hyun and about the modern sense of painting from An Dong-suk. She also attended the studio of Park No-su’s, who enjoyed Chinese painting. Thus, with the experience acquired from various outstanding professors, it is evident that Oh Jung-Ja has taken advantage of this experience until today.

Her talent has been recognized since the early times: she has been selected for the Korean National Art Exhibit for 8 consecutive times; she obtained the special prize in the Baekyanghoe y Mokwoohoe public contest.

After her graduation, in 1967, her independent exposition was put together, at the Hyundai and Sun galleries. Since then, up until today, she has displayed her works of art in a total of 14 exhibits; half of them have been abroad, including displays in Tokyo, Nagano, Washington D.C., Geneva, and Caracas.

Furthermore, Jung-Ja’s career debuted since the 60s and 70s with portrait painting, and in the 80s, she developed the animal theme, such as silk tent, pigeon, turkey, sparrow, magpie, as well as the colored fish. She also created paintings representing flowers, including lily, poppy and camellia images, which contributed to the ample themes her paintings encompass until this very day. Then again, despite working with various themes, her paintings are characterized by the splendid colors, the exact description and the balanced composition on the canvas.

In the last few years, her artwork has gone though numerous transformations, going from descriptive sceneries to feelings; in other words, her pieces do not try to reflect the image, but they do try to catch one’s attention through the ambiance represented on the canvas.

In addition, whenever the painting’s characteristic changes, so does the technique; however, artist Jung-ja never creates her works of arts by immediately drawing. What she does is that she utilizes a technique that emphasizes the material’s quality feel and tries to generate sensations through the light teal color.

Oh Jung-ja prefers to draw on creased korean paper, Hanji*, rather than on normal paper; whenever the paper is wrinkled, the evidence of the “ruin” remains, just as if a hurricane would have passed-by. Thus, the artist begins to produce her works focusing on the observation of the deformed surface, created by the wrinkling and folding.

Her technique is based on utilizing various corrugated pieces of paper, which are pasted all together to provide a strong and firm surface; this surface is then ready to be drawn and painted on. Standing before the paper, she uses the brush to color the surface with extreme care. The pigment she uses easily dissolves in water, and so, a few strokes do not show the color on the paper; one of Hanji’s characteristics, is that it absorbs color rather fast. Therefore, only after applying the paint for numerous times, the color is satisfactorily visible.

As a result, the fact that the painter repeats this process a variety of times must be to feel the intense characteristic of color, every time the pigment accumulates, and to deal with the peculiar texture of the Hanji. Consequently, this would be the reason for the huge effort she puts on this technique despite the many months of work an art piece, using this method, requires; since one cannot easily give-up on exquisiteness.

Something similar occurs with the work on silk. The soft surface that a piece of paper has will be different to the smooth and even texture of silk; however, color applied on paper is like accumulating snow. The color is not applied on one stroke, but in a gradual manner which augments the density; achieving a secret strength. It is in this, that time and dedication is invested; hiding the emotion and the thought of an aesthetic experience, and through this, one can perceive the beauty of metaphorical art - very unique and characteristic of the artist.

Furthermore, in her last art pieces, one can detect the sources of her inspiration, which have been the squatting pigeons, the owl and the solitary bird, bathed in moonlight. As well as, the tent that lies underwater, the bird that flutters its wings to fly, and the bird that comfortably rests in its nest.

Beside the images, one can also see the flower scenes with peonies, daffodils, Indian lilacs and camellias; all of which are blossoming radiantly.

If just observed lightly, this can be perceived as a simple flower or animal painting, but in reality, the images in the paintings are being used in a metaphorical sense, by the painter, as to portray the special meaning they possess. For example, the pigeon, the lonely bird, or the tent, all symbolize the ego or the man who finds himself in a determined environment.

Likewise, this is where the painter represents the moonlight, the soft waves or the extravagant flowers, etc., to provide relief and hope to those beings who are under strenuous and difficult situations. The painting displaying the bird with its fully extended wings, preparing to take off, or the one portraying the bird energetically gliding through the air, signify the action of setting yourself on the search of real freedom.

Excerpt taken from Un corazon calido, llevado a traves del pincel, Oh Jung-ja, by Seo Sung-rok, President of the Korean Painting Critics Association.

Hanji*: Hand-crafted Korean paper, made from Morera tree. This paper is mainly used for traditional painting and calligraphy.

La Forma Equivalente - March 19th to April 12th, 2009

La Forma Equivalente

From March 19th to April 12th, 2009

EspIRA / La ESPORA and the Museum of Art of El Salvador within the program MARTE Contemporáneo, presents the exhibition:

La Forma Equivalente (LFE)

This itinerante sample is sustained by two sources: on the one hand, by Central American artists who regularly build proposals on identity and power and whose works in LFE are mostly known. On the other hand, participants of the Academic Residence for Emerging Central American Artists (RAPACES), in its edition 2008-09, organized as well by EspIRA / La ESPORA and also called La Forma Equivalente.

When in 2007 we conceived the thematic area, we thought about questioning the historical relations, often romantic, between art and the dominant power – patriarchy, capitalism, racism and other systems of domination that need, just as many other things in this life, the visual scaffolding that art provides: from ultra-conventional ways, as the female nudity, to the less recognized, yet more surprising, strategies that we expected to find through dialogue with the artists.

For this purpose we called on LFE residency, a meeting of Central American emerging artists, under RAPACES, that would serve as a platform for discussion regarding art and power, and the production of a work in this sense. The other thing we did was to invite those artists that have already been working with issues such as gender, ethnicity, class, colonization, cultural, aesthetic stereotypes, to the LFE Exhibit.

It happened that in the LFE residency, participants and instructors expanded the field of discussion in various directions, like the broad and abstract field of power of images or the more specific art and its intimate relations with the curatorial power.

On the other hand, we knew that the works of guest artists were going to suggest new readings as soon as they reconfigured with the “whole” ... but that “whole” continued to be unclear since the outcome of the residency remained to be seen, and the study of the communication, the search, the articulation or non-articulation, between some works and others was still pending. In addition, we also knew that the trajectories of the two groups were very different; the individual weights of the participants are as diverse as Mosca and Welter. The combination was a risky action, however, after considering costs, risks, and benefits, we betted on the benefits. The result was amazing: LFE residency produced vigorous works and we began to notice convergences in the new “whole”, healthy divergences, links that went loose without losing the tension, as well as works that unexpectedly tied up in a natural and strong fashion.

The task of verbally articulating these perceptions, and to assemble them in space, leads to the harmonization, hopefully not too much, of a set that is based upon common interests and that is guided to a divergence of complex heterogeneities. The La Forma Equivalente Exhibit revises its own senses; it proposes itself as an exercise of reasoning that motivates and offers viewers with a peculiar combination of reflections, difficult to classify in other circumstances.

Patricia Belli


Participating artists for this exhibition are:

Edgar Calel, Regina Galindo, Sandra Monterroso (Guatemala)

Melissa Guevara, Mauricio Esquivel, Jaime Izaguirre (El Salvador)

Celeste Ponce, Lester Rodríguez (Honduras)

Raúl Quintanilla, Norlan Gutiérrez, Alejandro Flores, Jullissa Moncada, Laura Baumeister, Gabriel Serra, Ricardo Huezo, Consuelo Mora, Darling López Salinas (Nicaragua)

Javier Calvo Sandí, Diana Barquero, Fabrizio Arrieta, Roberto Guerrero, Paulina Velázquez (Costa Rica)

The MARTE Contemporáneo program is sponsored by Mario Cáder Frech and the MARTE Contemporáneo committee.