Latin American culture speaks to a variety of influences, from tropical climates to contentious political regimes to hopeful, ancient mythology. It is no wonder then that the art produced south of the border tends to be riotously colorful, intellectually abstract or grippingly realistic. Long before Europeans arrived, art produced in Latin America took its inspiration from indigenous spiritual teachings and native practices, creating unique traditions that varied from country to country. The introduction of Christianity by western travelers ushered in a new form of painting and expression highly rooted in the Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and French Schools.
Fast forward nearly three hundred years and these influences can still be seen in the work of some of Latin America’s most celebrated artists, such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco and Fernando Botero, each of whom produced highly distinct and influential oeuvres which continue to shape the fine arts in the region. Great Gatsby’s Auction Gallery is pleased to be offering works in their upcoming August 27-28, 2016 sale by Mexican artist Arnaldo Coen, whose talent was encouraged by Rivera himself, Cuban-born Pastor Castillo, a highly prodigious abstract and mixed media artist, and Xavier de Torres, a Spanish painter and sculptor born in Barcelona.
Arnaldo Coen’s work on offer, Olor a Lluvia (Scent of Rain), is a rich raspberry-hued abstract oil on canvas depicting soft, geometric shapes in tones of purple, grey and orange. A self-taught artist, Coen began painting in 1956 with the encouragement of Diego Rivera and was strongly influenced by both the Abstract Expressionist movement taking place predominantly in New York City and the rising trends of graphic design. Around the time this work was produced, Coen was beginning to incorporate surrealistic elements into his paintings with added texture and traces of fantasy. The French government granted Coen a stipend in 1967 to study in Paris, and there the artist became a founding member of the Salon Independiente. His work is currently part of numerous international collections and museums in Mexico City and Paris, Olor a Lluvia itself was once exhibited at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico.
Pastor Castillo, another self-taught artist and perhaps the lesser known of the three, is nonetheless a vital force to be reckoned with in his native Cuba and adopted home of Miami. His widereaching body of paintings, from the colorful and graphic to the more somber and reflective, speaks to the artist’s many influences such as the Cuban Revolution, the HIV crisis and the African Diaspora. His two works on offer represent both sides of the artist: one is vibrantly colorful, with squares in uplifting tones of blue set against a bright orange background, while the other is more complicated and complex, a swirl of black and light blue against a steely grey plain with haphazard abstract shapes.
The largest piece on offer is Xavier de Torres’ Amarillo Limon, an impressive abstract oil painting executed in 1997. At 76”h x 56”w, the work is a deeply engaging study of color and form, with soft squares of vibrant yellow centering the dramatic black background of the canvas. Amarillo Limon draws the viewer in with its tunnel vision of light and dark and its grand scale that begs to dominate the space it occupies. De Torres has exhibited most in his native Spain, with group shows in Switzerland, Canada and the United States. His work is a part of permanent collections in Berlin, Miami, California, Spain and New York.