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Viva L'Arte!

Art Review


Published May 23, 2007 at 4:00 a.m.


EXHIBIT: "Primavera 2007," a collection of works by 11 local Hispanic or Latin-influenced artists. Flynndog, Burlington. Through May 28.

ARTWORK:"Abstraction" by Amaru Chiza

The oldest paintings in the world exist in Spain. Around 30,000 years ago, naturalistic images of Pleistocene animals took shape on the ceiling of a group of caves near Malaga in Andalusia. To say they were created by Hispanic artists may be a bit of a stretch, but a rich legacy of Hispanic and Latin-influenced visual art has been accumulating since time immemorial. That heritage comes alive in "Primavera 2007," a group show at the Flynndog Gallery in Burlington, featuring 11 artists who transcend linguistic and ethnic boundaries.

Some of the most textural and vibrant canvasses in the exhibition are by Amaru Chiza. His 48-by-48-inch crimson and earth-toned "Abstraction" embeds incised lines and textured circles, like small pockmarks, in the thickly painted surface. The show offers another similarly designed, untitled composition on the same scale but in azure blues.

Textures also play an important role in Chiza's 20-by-24-inch, white-on-white collage, simply titled "Collage." It's constructed from raised geometric shapes cut from matte board and other heavy papers.

Chiza hails from Ecuador and is booked for a solo Flynndog exhibition in November. Given the strength of his works presented here, that show should be well worth a visit.

An expressive group of five 12-by-15-inch acrylics on paper entitled "Heads," by Dominican Republic émigré Danilo Gonzales, portrays the same male head painted in different ways. The portraits are highly abstracted, as if a variety of psychological states emerges in each. Gonzales draws with his paintbrush in a manner stylistically related to a better-known Hispanic artist - Pablo Picasso. He uses color sparingly in the series, but his line quality speaks volumes.

Grisel Valdes contributes to the exhibition three 14-by-16-inch prints from her "Mexico City Series." Born in Cuba, Valdes is now a prominent Miami artist. Each of her prints combines three photo transfers and incorporates lines of prose, which describe the Mexican capital as astutely as does the poetry of Octavio Paz. A print that includes grainy images of mariachi, a narrow street and a souvenir vendor reads: "Obstinately the city refuses its geometry / confronting the collision of civilization / with a fierce sense of harmony." Just as Gonzales shows portraits of an individual, Valdes presents those of a place.

Mark - a.k.a. Marco - Carter is a Winooski resident with a Mexican soul. His naively drawn figures include a female saint and a 22-by-20-inch portrait entitled "Señora Diana," depicting a woman with pulled-back hair posed stiffly in front of a green, leafy background. Carter's colors are raw and flat, and his portraits contain pleasingly chunky forms and small facial features. He creates unassuming yet archetypal images that - as in the best folk art - have strong personal significance.

Sculptors expertly craft three-dimensional space, but the fourth dimension - time - is somewhat more illusive. A 5-foot-tall untitled work by Spanish sculptor Muñez reads as a walking figure, passing through time and space rather than frozen in stasis. Two thick, terra-cotta potshards form the interior of the abstraction, while wire and steel rods capture the locomotion of the "figure." Its outline is like a vertical, forward-leaning scalene triangle.

In tandem with this exhibition, the Flynndog has unveiled a plan to create Espacio Cultural, a Spanish-language cultural center in Burlington's South End. Gallerist Bren Alvarez describes the project as offering "the promise that Flynndog will become a bilingual community resource and art space." The center aims to "connect the local Hispanic community by providing venues and opportunities for cultural events where Spanish is the language of choice." A particular focus will be children's activities.

Hispanic culture is as diverse as the regions of the globe where it has flourished. From that diversity flows the dynamic art of "Primavera 2007."