Quote Unquote: Jim Amaral
“There are no norms. All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist.” - Fernando Pessoa
This delightful series of drawings, titled Quote Unquote, reveal Jim Amaral’s endlessly inventive erotic imagination. In this private dream world, free of value judgment and restrictions, desire flows freely in all its multivalent manifestations. Outlines are drawn with an effortless fluency that emotionally connect the figures as they gaze at each other longingly or playfully reach out to stroke body parts. A pastel palette lends a perverse childlike sweetness and innocence to some scenes whereas boldly colored stripes and grids in others suggest stronger feelings. Physical and psychological metamorphosis is magically assisted via tentative and exploratory touch, at once tender, melancholy and profoundly human.
It is a strikingly contemporary vision of sexuality, where restrictive labels such as heterosexual or homosexual have been banished so that intensely psychological fantasies can rise to the surface sans societal or familial guilt. There is every permutation of covered or uncovered bodies, ranging from daring total nudity, to conventional clothing, to coquettish undergarments and finally to fanciful cross-dressing and fetishistic accouterments like high heels and handcuffs. Architectural elements such as building facades and staircases hint at structure, but are compositionally undermined by psychedelic sunbursts and collapsing checkerboard patterns. Further destabilizing is the lack of any traditional vantage point – instead each page can be read like a map, turning it around and around as feet walk off corners, figures hang upside down or are are cut-off from the waist down or even fly with wings.
Executed between 2002-2004, these 24 drawings are drawn from a remarkable series numbering 100. While each drawing is a solitary gem, being able to see 24 together allows the viewer to appreciate the series as a whole for its continuous and rich investigation into its subject. Throughout his long artistic career painting and sculpting in Bogotá, Columbia, Amaral has been influenced by French Surrealism, which he encountered while living intermittently in Paris during the 1970s. Indirectly inspired by Surrealism, the artist has explored the nature of sexuality in all media, including exquisitely constructed collages made from found objects. The Surrealists’ incorporation of chance in their work, for example, can be seen in Quote Unquote in imagery related to games such as playing cards and the chessboard. Metamorphoses of all kinds seamless occur within the logic of the dream – people levitate, walk through solid walls, a plant grows out of a man’s torso, to name but a few. Amaral’s phantasmagoric panorama of sexual longings and psychological vulnerabilities appears fresh, youthful, and even effortless – the trademark of a lifetime spent both honing technical skills and exploring the self.
Susan L. Aberth
Cave Project: Diario Valentino Cortazar
LAMB is pleased to present the cave project: Diario, by Valentino Cortazar (Bogota, 1949).
This series of works were produced in 1978 during an incredible several months long journey he made between Deia and Ibiza, Spain. During this pilgrimage adventure, he encountered many people along the way, and they inspired his creations that compose the diary exhibited. Antonio Escohotado described his work saying: “In reality, Cortázar paints what surrounds him, and what surrounds him is his own tenderness. Free hand drawing, open to the immediate and fleeting movement of the model, safe line clear profiles and a color simply his, never captured until he began to illuminate the figure of his feather wet in dreams with volumes of intense vigil.”
Cortazar is one of the unsung heroes of the surrealist movement. Having left Colombia at the age of 18, he worked in a kibutz, lived amongst fishermen and then travelled to London where he studied fine art and found in the midst of the city’s grey the bright colours that mark his work.
Following his studies, he set off on another adventure to Spain where he encountered the father of surrealism Salvador Dali. It was him who inspired Valentino to pursue the life of a painter- after admiring a few of his drawings he declared that his colour charmed him and described the artist as a brave man.
It was during this Spanish period that the artist started building his reputation- by meeting other artists and collectors he started travelling and selling his works to a select list of international clients. Consequently after receiving a formal invitation on behalf of the government, Cortazar travelled to Italy where he immersed himself in the world of the Renaissance masters. He later travelled back to South America where he works between Bogota and the beaches of Cartagena.