The newest exhibit of Dominican art at the Art Museum of the Americas ranges “from Picasso to Pikachu and everything you can fit in between” said the museum’s educator and archivist Adriana Ospina.
The exhibit, which opened in early October, explores art collected by the General Directorate of Customs of the Dominican Republic to “preserve the artistic patrimony of Dominican art,” Ospina said.
It features 30 pieces ranging from 1927 to the present and “shows a panorama of modern and contemporary Dominican art,” she said.
Though there was no work by Picasso on display, Ospina found the artist’s influence on two particular paintings.
The concept of bodegon still life is a genre of Spanish art. An untitled work by Ramón Oviedo recreates Picasso’s famous “Guernica” in bright, arresting, vibrant colors with a blue that recalls the ever-present Caribbean Sea.
The exhibit highlights the different influences of overlapping artists, ideals and cultures.
“[The different influences] shows a little bit of what is happening in terms of the development of art,” Ospina said. One common undercurrent, however, is the Spanish influence on these painters.
The color blue is another constant that appears throughout the exhibition. It represents the ocean surrounding the Dominican Republic, the natural barrier to immigration to the United States, Ospina said. Many artists strove to represent the theme of immigration in their work.
Some succeeded, including Julio Valdez an artist working in Takoma Park, Md. Valdez’s work is influenced by “the idea of his own diaspora,” Ospina said.
This blue theme, said Ospina, is permeated with the darkness of danger, dictatorship and daring.
One piece, “My Floating World” by New York City-based Scherezade García, blends distinct layers of rolling water, streaks of rain suggesting tears and splashes on the sea that reflect up above in the form of firework-like shapes.
An untitled migration-based piece by Fernando Varela features a canoe outlined in thorns with the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and a split Hispaniola as its passengers. The thorns, as well as the reflected male and female nudes at top and bottom, combine to make the work slightly suggestive of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who worked in similar tropes.
It closes with pieces of the past decade with the style, composition and subject matter of the present. One, “Vanity II” by Inés Tolentino, features images of airplanes, tanks, canoes, Mickey Mouse and, as Ospina said, Pikachu.
The museum, a venture of the Organization of American States, has found a niche for itself with these historically and aesthetically similar but creatively unique paintings.
The exhibit, curated by Maria del Carmen Osaye, runs until Feb. 1, 2015.
Evan Berkowitz is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.