I believe in art. That’s why, for this third edition of the Atlántica online magazine, I have only invited artists who share this faith in the expressiveness of art.
After centuries under the control of secular rulers and religion, art finally eked out its autonomy some time ago – a fact brilliantly expressed in the title sin título. Art had become totally free; it no longer needed a direct purpose.
This trend has seen another reversal in recent years; art these days once again needs a decipherable purpose and meaning, a clearly articulated, objectively manifest cause. It requires a politically correct theme to address in order to be socially recognised and successful, and understood by the masses.
That’s why I called together artists who have seemingly shirked such categorisations, who do not need any labels, and who have refused to pander to the regressive, positivist 19th-century thinking that is currently so prevalent.
The common thread linking all the artists presented here is their altruism. None of them have cowed to the market and its demands. Implicitly or even explicitly, but always under the guise of aesthetics, they resist the status quo and social wrongs; their works are the result of an ethical and moral imperative, and have remained totally uncorrupted. The artists featured here do not hash out a particular subject to the point of regurgitating it over and over. They instead successfully seek a new, specific means of expression for each idea.
The collection of artists I have featured here are true icons: Lázaro Saavedra, who has long been the solid rock of the Cuban scene, unflinching and always brimming with positive irony and a love for the world despite all adversity and duress; Betsabeé Romero, the only artist in Mexico to fuse arte popular with contemporary art in a way that breaks new ground in art and constantly redefines the outmoded, academicised concept of culture; Argentines Lolo and Lauti, whose focus is on the all-but-lost tradition of queer political drag cabarets, which they are helping achieve an unimagined revival – in a cheeky, fresh, witty, eccentric and totally contemporary style; Colombian Juan Manuel Echavarría, who has spent many years exploring the social, political and humanitarian situation of his home country, ravaged by civil war, and not only documents this through harrowing art, but is also personally active in these matters, along with his helpers; Argentine Nicola Costantino, whose work is dedicated to morbo and all things sinister, violent and dark, though these also undergo a unique aesthetic exaltation in her art; finally there is José Damasceno, the epitome of an enigmatic artist, whose creations are often cryptic, but which generally break new ground when it comes to their possible interpretations: ‘It is really important to deal with what you do not know.’ (JD)
Hans-Michael Herzog – Editorial Coordinator
Born in 1956, Hans-Michael Herzog studied art history, philosophy, and classical archaeology at the University of Bonn, and was awarded his PhD in 1984 with a focuson Venetian Proto-Renaissance Sculpture.
From 1987 until 1989, Dr. Herzog worked for the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, München.
Between 1989 and 1999 he was Curator of the Kunsthalle Bielefeld.
From 2000 to 2015 Dr. Herzog has been the Artistic Director and Chief Curator of theDaros Latinamerica Collection based in Zürich, Switzerland. From 2005 to 2009 he was the Artistic Director of the Daros Collection, also based in Zürich. He was Founding Director of the Casa Daros in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Critical writer on art and architecture, Dr. Herzog has been responsible for numerous exhibitions and publications, largely on international contemporary art. These include: Manolo Millares (1992), Kunst um Kunst (1993), Jürgen Klauke: Prosecuritas (1994), The Body / Le Corps (1994), Sean Scully: The Catherine Paintings (1995), Langlands & Bell (1995), Jonathan Lasker: Paintings (1997), Ronald Bladen: Sculpture (1998), La Mirada – Looking at Photography in Latin America Today (2002), Cantos Cuentos Colombianos: Contemporary Colombian Art (2004), Le Parc Lumière: KineticWorks by Julio Le Parc (2005), Fabian Marcaccio: Paintant Stories (2005), Seduções:Soares, Meireles, Neto (2006), Guillermo Kuitca: Das Lied von der Erde (2006), Carlos Amorales: Dark Mirror (2007), Face to Face (2007), Painted! (2008), For You / Parausted (2009), Antonio Dias: Anywhere Is My Land (2009), Luis Camnitzer (2010), Nicola Costantino (2011), Wifredo Díaz Valdéz (2011), Illusions (2014), Made in Brasil (2015), Cuba – Ficción y Fantasía (2015).