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Seguimos: Contemporary Art in Costa Rica at Craig Krull

Ardrián Arguedas Ruano, El Ciego, 2022, Color Woodblock Print, 28 x 34.6 inches (Edition of 20)

Craig Krull Gallery will present Seguimos: Contemporary Art in Costa Rica, a group exhibition co-curated by Hannah Sloan, on view March 30 through May 18, 2024.

Seguimos features installation, video, photography, painting, works on paper and sculpture by an intergenerational group of thirteen Costa Rican artists, the majority of whom are highly regarded in Central America, but have never exhibited in the United States. The artists in this exhibition reflect a spectrum of interests and concerns facing Costa Ricans today and position themselves within the broadest developments in contemporary art, with particular focus on the topics of body, identity and place.

The exhibition includes work by: Adrián Arguedas Ruano, Alina González, Allegra Pacheco, Christian Wedel, Isaac Loría, Javier Calvo, La Cholla Jackson, Lucía Howell, Luciano Goizueta, Matias Sauter Morera, Mimian Hsu Chen, Priscilla Romero-Cubero and Valiente Pastel.

The title Seguimos comes from an installation of 120 works on paper by conceptual artist, Priscilla Romero-Cubero, who registered the liquid latex imprints of the fingers of dozens of people, then printed them in groups of four with diagonal tally marks slashed across them. The tallies suggest the continual counting of deaths, victims, injustices, the disappeared and the silenced. Seguimos, translated as “we continue” or “we keep going,” implies lives and memory that refuse to be forgotten. Like Romero-Cubero, other artists in this exhibition use the body for explorations of identity, both personal and political. In his work, El Blanco es Relativo, which depicts the artist’s arm tattooed with these words, Javier Calvo addresses a racial stereotype in a country incorrectly generalized as non-white. Interdisciplinary artist and ballet dancer, Lucia Howell takes body-oriented video art into the Costa Rican landscape, her nude figure camouflaged in fragments of mirror creating a mythological and symbolically charged realm.

Alina González produces personal works reflecting on their identity as a transgender woman, including poignant nude self-portraits, portraits of media icons like Bridget Bardot, and transgressive bodies including the “stars” of the transgender pornography industry. The eroticized body also plays a role in the work of Valiente Pastel, who uses irreverence and humor to discuss queer culture in Latin America and female empowerment. Pastel paints over erotic advertisements and found objects in order to tell stories, as well as normalize and satirize sexual behaviors that are usually hidden or considered shameful in a conservative society.

Bodies also figure prominently in the work of interdisciplinary artist and documentary filmmaker, Allegra Pacheco, whose intimately scaled paintings of boxers and MMA fighters in blurred freeze frame underscore her own position as a woman physically training in a hyper-masculine environment. La Cholla Jackson’s assemblage work is the residue of her drag performances, contorting and recontextualizing “high” fashion such as pointy stilettos and pumped sneakers into audacious sculpture with a gritty Arte Povera street sensibility. Mimian Hsu Chen, is often linked to issues of cultural hybridization and acculturation of the Chinese immigrant on the American continent. For Seguimos she will debut a 26 foot long “waterfall” of diaphanous fabric embellished with embroidery, beads and pearls. The sculpture represents the seaweed and algae that floats between Costa Rica and Taiwan, collapsing space and transcending political circumstances.

The lush tropical photographs of Matias Sauter Morera offer alternative perspectives on the highly biodiverse landscape of Costa Rica, one often associated with paradise, vacation or tranquility, by acknowledging both his childhood memories of place as well as the darkness and mystery that jungles evoke. Psychologically fertile landscapes also emerge in the forthright immediacy of paintings by self-taught artist Isaac Loría. Living in a remote and rustic environment, he often paints outdoors amidst mango and banana trees, tacking his unstretched canvases to humble structures on his grandfather’s farm. Christian Wedel’s practice is rooted in an inventive and somewhat anthropomorphic animation of landscapes on the Caribbean coast, identifying alignment and transference of qualities between plants and human bodies that occurs in the dense tropics.

In the tradition of Costa Rica’s most lauded 20th century printmaker, Francisco Amighetti, Adrián Arguedas Ruano is considered one of the greatest exponents of engraving and woodcut in Latin America. His graphic work in this exhibition commemorates a traditional masquerade festival of his small hometown, possessing the raw theatricality of James Ensor’s crowds as well as the hauntingly distorted puppetry of German Expressionism. Finally, Luciano Goizueta is a cultural impresario whose Salita_temporal gallery has become a focal point for visual arts in San José. Seguimos includes his video project, Colección de Ahoras/Collection of Nows, an ongoing gathering of brief incidental moments in the life of a Costa Rican artist, a self-reflective document and testament to the idea that “we continue.”

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