If you type Botero on Google, it goes J Balvin talking about colors. J Balvin the singer. The one with SpongeBob. He partner of any Latin Grammy. The Tik Tok soundtrack. What does he do reggaeton prince talking about king of volume? At first, the association seems bizarre, although within minutes of his art criticism in spanglish both artists from Medellín are getting closer and closer. They are both famous, they like the bombastic and easily move the masses to the dance floor and the museum. There is no fold in its literalness. Not half a suspicion of a double meaning to avail. Nothing. What we see is what it is. A demodé realism and a hit that invites you to look for an umbrella. A double popular alliance. This is the perreo drunkard that is now danced in Madrid from the oldest retrospective of Fernando Botero at CentroCentro. Jokes about the post-confinement bodies are already heard at the door. Criticisms about the reason for a commission exhibition organized by Arthemisia, the Italian company specializing in popular entertainment products, grow in somewhat more internal jurisdictions.
The truth is that realism sells to talk about the “state of things.” He did so in 1960, when the fixation on the reality of the modern world, in tune with the North American neo-datas postulates, inspired the first manifesto of the new realism that Pierre Restany published in Milan and that instantly settled in Paris. He did it while Antonio Lopez started The Campo del Moro, taking the first steps to stand next to the famous landscapers. Just when Isabel Baquedano was making her way into the orbit of realistic figuration. The objective was clear: in the face of the sclerosis of the dominant tendencies, the new realisms considered the world as a great painting, as a fundamental work endowed with universal meanings. Like a philosopher’s stone. The sociological reality was pure air in that painting reduced to the visual fact and its literal character, in a search to give a new meaning to contemporary nature. An appropriation of the real that is once again the law of our present, especially among younger artists.
Jordan casteel (1989) is an example. When she came to campus as a student, her mother took her into the dining room, not to eat, but to greet the kitchen staff, the people who would really take care of her. Ten years after graduating, she still calls Betty, a baker, who stars in one of her paintings. That particular alchemy, the one that begins with a nervous greeting and transforms strangers into a family, is the core of her work. At 31 years old, she has been celebrated for her great portraits of friends and neighbors, always black and often immigrants, now hanging from the New Museum. It is his first institutional exhibition, although his works are already circulating around the Vogue of this month and by the High Line in New York in his first commission of public art, Fallou, already bought by rapper Swizz Beatz.
Casteel brings to painting a new perspective on contemporary life in New York that would otherwise be difficult to find in museums. A day laborer, a cashier, a cleaner, a janitor. The same x-ray is also performed by the Mexican Aliza nisenbaum (1977) and the Nigerian Njideka Akunyili Crosby (1983) with a painting turned into political militancy. They are artists who respond to an empathic and alternative realism to speak of their own and that of others under a gaze that does not hesitate to honor their neighbor: without distances, without complexes, without clichés. The use hipster of realistic painting. In times of liquid identities, figuration redraws a new aesthetic framework to speak of everyday mythologies from a physical body dominated by internal concerns. That is the new still life: an introspective painting, tender and bucolic at the same time, that the artists project under a mental construction of the antiheroic and vulnerable reality. He alter ego of Shona mcandrew (1990) sitting on the couch staring at nothing. Dea Gómez (1989) and Diego Omil (1988), who form The Bravú, craning his neck behind a selfie stick. Gala Knörr (1984), among memes, deep fakes and emojis. OR
the portraits of Amy Sherald (1973), which this month have reached another cover, that of Vanity fair, from which it pays tribute to Breonna Taylor.
There is also a magical realism well installed in the galleries and the market, the grandson of Gustav Klimt, which gives a more prosaic and poetic dimension to everyday life. María Berrío (1982) synthesizes it like few others with its atmosphere of a confused, chaotic and lost everyday world, that in a few days he will install in the Victoria Miró gallery in London. There is also a surrealistic realism, through which the figuration of Yann Leto (1979), Jessie makinson (1985), Hulda Guzman (1984) or Nathan Cash Davidson (1988), who in addition to being an artist is a rapper. And then there is pop realism: much more eclectic, narrative, hooked. The entire universe of Tala Madani (1981). The asses of Celia Hempton (1981) and those of Pere Llobera (1970), painters who do not avoid the strangest and most disturbing side of existence. She now exhibits at the Southard Reid Gallery in London. He, in the Madrid F2. A painting with stain and accumulation, with plot and questions, sister of Luc Tuymans’ eye and his reinvention of history, and of Maria Lassnig’s animal exploration. Intensity in the gaze, the experience seeing the mold of things and not the thing itself, that which defines what is art and what is not. That dilemma.
Jordan Casteel: Within Reach. New Museum. New York. Until March 1, 2021.
María Berrío: Flowered Songs and Broken Currents. Victoria Miró. London. From October 6 to November 27.
Celia hempton. Southard Reid Gallery. London. Until October 24.
Pere Llobera. A smaller perfection. F2. Madrid. Until October 31st.