5 Latinx Artists Using Abstraction to Address Precolonial Histories
By Ayanna Dozier
Oct 6, 2022
In her article “Witnessing the In-visibility of Inca Architecture in Colonial Peru” (2007), Stella Nair describes how 16th-century Spanish colonists razed Incan art and architecture, replacing Indigenous culture with their own. Across the Americas and the Caribbean, the pattern persisted: Europeans destroyed artifacts of native creativity as they asserted their dominance over the people themselves. Nair writes about how contemporary Latinx artists are reclaiming their aesthetic past by embracing fragmentation and the partial histories they’ve received. The open-ended nature of abstraction appeals to many of them.
These painters, sculptors, photographers, and weavers are slowly reviving Indigenous forms of knowledge as they connect to their roots. Last year, Elizabeth Ferrer curated the revelatory exhibition “Latinx Abstract” at BRIC with the contemporary Latinx artists Candida Alvarez, Karlos Cárcamo, Maria Chávez, Alejandro Guzmán, Glendalys Medina, Freddy Rodríguez, Fanny Sanín, Mary Valverde, Vargas-Suarez Universal, and Sarah Zapata. The show featured paintings and sculptures that were outstanding in their own right—and reinvigorated the American canon of abstraction that has, for too long, been dominated by white Euro-American male artists.