Thus, Otero not only retains a commitment to making paintings and sculptures, but at key points in his career he has underscored that dedication with a personal mission to revisit key examples of the art of the past. Using a disciplined, thoroughgoing, empirical studio process, Otero has established a compositional method that brings together and pulls apart disparate artistic influences to develop his own unique visual language.
Guest curator Christian Viveros-Fauné invites us to consider Otero’s own evolving process of formal innovation in relation to that of the artist Robert Motherwell. A leading Abstract Expressionist and the author of over one hundred paintings that he titled Elegy to the Spanish Republic (completed between 1948 and 1967), Motherwell created his mostly monochrome canvases as a “lamentation or funeral song” on the subject of the Spanish Civil War. Invariably, these works have also served as illustrations of the power of abstract art to take on both urgent themes and modernity’s constant need for artistic innovation.
“Every intelligent painter carries the whole culture of modern painting in his head,” Motherwell once said. “It is the real subject, of which everything he paints is both an homage and a critique, and everything he says is a gloss.” The work Angel Otero has produced for the Bronx Museum are not elegies in the typical sense, but celebrations of twenty-first century painterly innovation and of the resilience of art during times of change.