Over the last decade, New York-based artist Angel Otero has experimented with numerous genres and styles, from early still lifes, domestic interiors, and landscapes, to pure abstraction created using his innovative oil paint “skins,” to the work he is creating today―a combination of both.

While best known for paintings that are all over abstractions collaged from a single paint skin that the artist carves into, Otero’s newest body of work features representational imagery painted directly onto blank canvases and paint skins. The works featured in The Fortune of Having Been There foreground images drawn from Otero’s memories of his childhood combined with art historical references, all while maintaining the artist’s signature process and abstract style.

In this new series of works, recognizable objects and motifs―beds, house plants, bird cages, couches―seem to float amidst or emerge from the frenetic swirls of layers upon layers of vibrant oil paint.

Each painting engages with memories associated with specific objects or spaces, in this case items found in the home. Though memory has always been a key narrative component of Otero’s work, it was previously expressed through material specificity or patterning.

In The Fortune of Having Been There, depictions of items tied to childhood memories (particularly of the furniture from Otero’s grandmother’s home in Puerto Rico) are combined with art historical influences that range from Pierre Bonnard’s interiors, to Joan Mitchell’s vibrant palette, to Georges Braque’s use of fragmented and fractured space. Otero’s inclusion of beds, bathtubs, and chairs invites us to consider our own relationship to these quotidian objects, while also reflecting the artist’s personal history, family, and domestic space.

About the artist: Angel Otero (b. 1981, Santurce, Puerto Rico; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York) received his MFA in 2009 and his BFA in 2007 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2017); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2016); Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain (2015); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2013); and Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, NC (2012).

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Image // Angel Otero, “The Fortune of Having Been There”, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London, photo by Elisabeth Bernstein.

Angel Otero // “The Fortune of Having Been There” // Lehmann Maupin Gallery // New York, USA // On view through 27 March 2021 //