Hauser & Wirth now represent Angel Otero. Hauser & Wirth have said that Otero’s first exhibition will be in New York within a year.
Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1981, Otero has achieved critical acclaim for his powerful, process-based work that transcends the boundaries of traditional painting. Merging painting with collage and sculpture, his work situates itself between abstraction and figuration in order to engage themes of history, memory, and identity. The uniquely palpable visual impact of Otero’s work is achieved through a technique that echoes the ways in which the passage of time reconfigures our perception of the world and our place within it: the artist lays down representational imagery in oil paint on glass panels, waits for the paint to partially dry, and then scrapes up its solidifying surface layers. The paint ‘skins’ Otero creates in this process are reconstructed onto canvas, yielding complex and vibrant results that showcase his material in new and radical ways, celebrating the pure materiality of paint as well as the depth of experience rewarded by looking.
Otero moved from Puerto Rico to the United States in 2004 to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Taking inspiration from both his own life and art historical sources, including the influence of artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, and the New York School of abstract expressionists like Joan Mitchell, he built his artistic practice upon a foundation of confident, consistent technical experimentation. Like his friend Jack Whitten, whose acclaimed oeuvre deployed material innovation to powerful visual and psychological effect, Otero ruminates upon the phenomena of individual and collective memory through the act of layering. In recent years, his predominantly abstract artistic vocabulary has expanded to include representational imagery of particularly significant familiar objects, sights, and motifs from both his memory and everyday life.
He’s truly a painter’s painter, constantly searching for ways to connect the abstract and the representational, the everyday and the sublime.Marc Payot
Otero’s work has been exhibited in solo museum exhibitions internationally, including Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York NY (2017); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston TX (2016); Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain (2015); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah GA (2013); and Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh NC (2012). He is the recipient of the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Visual Arts.
About the artist
Angel Otero was born in 1981 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, where he resided until moving to Chicago in 2004. He currently splits his time between New York and Puerto Rico. In 2009, Otero was included in the exhibition ‘Constellations’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, shortly after receiving his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Otero’s practice is known for employing highly innovative techniques that challenge the parameters of his materials, revealing the intrinsic qualities of paint. His works are rooted in abstract image making and engage with ideas of memory through addressing art history, as well as his own lived experience. Otero is best known for the Oil Skin works he began in 2010, an ongoing series that demonstrates the inherently transformative nature of the artist’s practice as well as his dedication to expanding the visual field of abstract expressionism. Using oil paint layered onto glass and peeled off at a partially dried state, Otero recomposes his ‘skins’ onto canvas to make entirely new images and patterns. This methodical process is extended to his Transfer Series (2013) which utilizes imagery from his own personal history. Referencing historical etchings, the artist traces images drawn from his family photographs into horizontal lines with silicone – he eventually transfers the composition onto a large piece of paper that becomes the plate he will cover in raw pigment. Otero then lays his canvas onto these mediums to create a distorted monotype of the original imagery.
His more recent works have continued to explore chance-based processes and their potential to convey memory and history through materiality. In 2017, Otero debuted a series of large-scale sculptural oil paintings that resemble tapestry. Hanging freely, these works incorporate salvaged materials from his studio, off-cuts of previous paintings, and found objects that are significant to his native Puerto Rico. The many fragments that make up his compositions become powerful meditations on past and present.