Pedro Alvarez + Saidel Brito
13 June, 2001, Santa Monica-Track 16 Gallery is proud to announce its summer exhibition, "Two + Two," which features four internationally acclaimed artists: Pedro Alvarez, Saidel Brito, Fernando Bryce, and Milagros de la Torre. This exhibition runs from July 18 to August 25, 2001, as part of the L.A. International Biennial Art Invitational. The opening reception is on July 18th from 5 to 8 p.m.
Fernando Bryce's piece The Progress of Peru-Benavides consists of 37 ink-on-paper drawings. He took the title from a 1937 pamphlet of the same name published by the Peruvian government for distribution in English-speaking countries. The work emerged from Bryce's stay in Berlin, where he found copies of official propaganda produced by the government of Oscar Benavides. These images are "less the trace of an incomplete history of the Republic than the genealogy of personal history, vis-a-vis with his own country and its tinted image repertoire." In Bryce's work the social or personal almost always intervenes-its purpose is critical and ethical with a subtly shifting focus. Fernando Bryce studied art at both the Universidad Catolica in Lima and at the Universite Paris in Paris. After graduating he studied for two years with Christian Boltanski at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. He currently divides his time between Lima, Peru, and Berlin, Germany.
Milagros de la Torre reconstructs in her works the characteristics that define documentary photography. Through photographing existing archives she utilizes the documentary methodology as a means to represent the power of the gaze. In this way, her work situates itself within the limits that separate the objectivity of history from the subjective memory. Her series of photographs entitled Censurados is taken from writings in books that were censored during the Spanish Inquisition. The censorship is strong and sometimes abstract. Once one gets nearer and discovers that there is something written beneath the splatters of ink, a presence is suggested, making the image stronger. Most of the censored paragraphs pertain to one nun's erotic hallucinations involving Christ, as well as to scientific facts that were not in agreement with the religious beliefs at the time. The project was created at the University of Salamanca, Spain, which has one of the oldest libraries specializing in Spanish-language materials. De la Torre was born in Lima, Peru, where she studied communications; she then moved to London to study photography at the London College of Printing. She currently lives and works in Mexico and Lima, Peru.
In his paintings Cuban artist Pedro Alvarez sets up a space in which all referents can come together to create a new interwoven interpretation, even as they represent an ideological confrontation. He chooses reproductions of artworks from catalogues and books and then paints over them using transparent pigments. One of the paintings in his latest series, California, painted while Alvarez was in Spain, is based on the "Hollywood" sunset landscape by Ed Ruscha. Alvarez brings together the Rock of Gibraltar with the silhouettes of the Tío Pepe fino brand bottle and the Osborne bull (two of the most recognizable commercial symbols in Spain), with a Coca-Cola sign (one of the most recognizable brands in the world) appearing on the horizon. As one approaches the painting, however, one can see a collage of pages from a Velazquez catalogue in the background, suggesting the paradox of visual text and the restructuring of history as read through a human construct. In The Triumphs of Spanish Art, a polyptich of five panels reproduces bullfighting scenes taken from XIX Cuban cigar labels painted on top of a collage. The title of the work is a reference to "The De-humanization of Art," an essay by the influential Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset. Alvarez creates an ironic parallel between bullfighting and the artistic process. He currently lives and works in Havana, Cuba.
Cuban artist Saidel Brito's installation Sobre la felicidad del mayor numero posible (On happiness: in as many ways possible) consists of 82 pieces: 41 portraits of Ecuadorian presidents, and 41 portraits of the children who participated in the making of the piece. Brito began with a large piece of canvas, which he cut in half. He took one half to the Plaza Grande (the central plaza in the historic district of Quito, which is surrounded by the City Hall, the Government Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral), laid it on the ground and with the help of a local group of shoe-shine boys and girls who work the plaza, painted it using shoe polish, various shoe dyes and color pigment in yellow, blue and red (the colors of the Ecuadorian flag). Once the canvas dried, Brito cut it into 41 pieces, which were later divided among the children who had originally painted it. Under Brito's supervision and instruction, these children painted portraits of different presidents (based on the official portraits used in educational institutions) using shoe polish and dyes. Each finished portrait carries the signature of the child who painted it, as well as the initials of the president depicted. The unused half of the canvas was also cut into 41 pieces. Brito then photographed each of the children who participated, and their portraits were printed on the canvases. In the final installation, the portraits are shown in chronological order corresponding to each president's portrait and that of the child who painted it. Saidel Brito studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. During the past year he has worked in Ecuador.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Smart Art Press has published Pinspot catalogues for each artist.