This article is the first one of a new series that will spotlight five artists from Latin America and its diaspora once a month. Whether you are searching for artists to start an art collection or a collector looking to diversify your acquisitions, OR simply wanting to expand your knowledge of artists, this is for you.
As we all know, the art world favors the western art lexicon, and we continue to repeatedly hear the name of the same male artists. Yes, I get it; Warhol, Picasso, and Rothko, to name a few, were revolutionary in their artmaking and, therefore, will remain eternal icons. Yet, this does not mean they are the only artists worth learning about and collecting! It is time to shift our focus to the plethora of other artists creating equally visually stimulating work, particularly female artists from Latin America, who continue to be marginalized on a macro and micro level due to patriarchal systems.
Here is my list for June of five artists from Latin America that deserve your attention. Let's share their names and champion their work.
Delia Cancela, Photo Celeste Leeuwenburg
(b. 1940, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Delia Cancela is a key figure in Argentine pop art. From her abstract work in the 1950s to her soft sculptures made from cloth, Delia Cancela’s art has explored the obligations imposed on women in a patriarchal society, gender stereotypes regarding how they dress, and female symbolism and sexuality. Her artistic career path has included an association with the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (ITDT), the hub of the Argentine avant-garde in the 1960s, involvement with the European fashion scene in the 1970s and 80s with collaborations with brands such as Hermès, Kenzo and Eres, and work with techniques such as collage, drawing, and painting, as well as wardrobe design.
A graduate of the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Cancela began exhibiting shortly after graduation. Her work has been exhibited in South America, the USA, and Europe in institutions like Tate Modern and Hammer Museum, to name a few. Cancela has received numerous distinctions such as a nomination for the Jorge Romero Brest Award, a career prize, by the Asociación Argentina de Críticos de Arte, the Premio Directorio a la Trayectoria given by the Argentine Fondo Nacional de las Artes (2004), the recognition of Personalidad Destacada from the Cultura de la Legislatura of the City of Buenos Aires (2013) and the Premio a la Trayectoria (2018) from the Argentine Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación. Her works are in private collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She lives and works between Buenos Aires and Paris, France.
Courtesy of Delia Cancela.
Courtesy of Renata Morales and Dallas Contemporary.
(b. 1975, Mexico City, Mexico)
Renata Morales is a multimedia artist whose practice spans different mediums, from drawing to painting, costume, textile, and object design, to most recently ceramic sculpture in Guadalajara, Mexico. Her artistic interest lies in the search for identity and belonging through artworks investigating the large range of emotions that are part of the human experience. Beyond her fine art practice, Morales is a well-known fashion designer and art director, having created iconic pieces for Arcade Fire and Grimes and collaborated with directors such as Denis Villeneuve and institutions like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Venice Biennale. Last year, Morales' first solo exhibition opened at Dallas Contemporary showcasing her latest drawings and ceramics.
Morales has a fine art degree from Lionel Groulx College. In 2007 she received the Ariane ward for Design Excellence and the LUX award for photography and Art Direction. She lived and works between Montreal and Guadalajara where she has been an artist in residence at Ceramica Suro, developing new techniques in ceramics.
Image by Kevin Todora. Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary.
Courtesy of Wynnie Mynerva.
( b. 1993, Lima, Peru)
Wynnie Mynerva is a visual artist whose work revolves around gender politics, queer aesthetics, and female desire. Through colorful paintings of nudes entangled in sexual acts, they explore the taboos behind pleasure and gender roles during sex. It was the artist’s upbringing in Villa El Salvador, a peripheral district located south of Lima where they witnessed the practice of prostitution closely, which highly influenced the subject matter in their art practice. Mynerva’s female subjects are unshackled from the notion that the female body should be useful, and instead maintains a wholly female presence, fully affirmed in their desires to consume and experience pleasure without boundaries, rules, or constructs.
Mynerva studied Art History at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and Fine Arts (Painting) at the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes del Perú. They have participated in residences in Fountainhead (Miami), Uberbau (Sao Paulo), and AMIL (Lima) and their work has been exhibited internationally. The artist’s work is in private and public collections in the USA, Europe, and Latin America. Earlier this year at Arco Madrid, Minerva made international headlines with a video installation in which they get their vagina surgically sewn shut. The video was a commentary on societal expectations of women and the patriarchal medical system in Peru. They currently live and work in Lima, Peru.
Courtesy of Wynnie Mynerva.
Courtesy of Nohemí Pérez and Óscar Pérez from El Espectador.
(b. 1962, Tibú, Colombia)
Nohemí Pérez’s work was born out of the necessity of preserving a landscape that has been affected by war. Coming from a region that was deeply touched by the Colombian armed conflict (El Catacumbo) her works deals with the inscription of violence in bodies and nature. Be it that she catalogs endangered tree species, or that she portrays the ravaged Colombian territory to preserve it in a mnemonic act, the complex relationship between human ambition and nature’s depletion seeps to the surface of Pérez’s drawings and paintings with a rare strength and sensitivity.
Pérez studied at the School of Fine Arts in Barranquilla and painting at ASAB (Superior Academy of Arts in Bogotá). She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art of Cartagena and in the cultural center of the University of Salamanca in Bogotá to name a few. Her work is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art of Cartagena, the Museum of Modern Art of Barranquilla, and several private collections. She lives in Bogotá, Colombia.
Courtesy of Nohemí Peréz and Instituto de Vision.
Courtesy of Laíza Ferreira and Adelina Instituto.
(b. 1988, Anannindeua, Brazil)
Laíza Ferreira’s work starts from fiction, non-linear temporalities, ancestral memories, and the recreation of worlds through resignified image fragments. Using photographs collage, made analogically or digitally, she appropriates images found in personal files, thrift shopping, and search websites for the creation and reconnection of ancestral memories, in a process of decolonizing the image, the look, and the photographic language. The symbolic significance of portraits of different peoples and ethnicities, landscapes, and astronomical elements are mixed with residues, traces, pixels, and granulations of files of different resolutions. The image above is a screenshot from her virtual exhibition titled Ancestral Memory. You can watch it here.
Ferreira studied a degree in Visual Arts at UFRN (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte) and has exhibited her work in physical and digital media in Brazil, Colombia, and Spain. In 2020 she won the Margem Fotografica Potiguar Award. She lives and works in Natal, Brazil.