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Art Review:

Anguish and joy straight from heart

Women are complexly displayed in artwork of various media.

August 15, 2009|By Melonie Magruder

Angel Lopez’s solo exhibition, “Different Media Y Un Solo Corazón (and One Solitary Heart),” at the Creative Arts Center Gallery in Burbank captures the vision of an artist rooted in his Latino heritage expressing himself fluidly in global media.

With a generous collection pleasing in its versatility — the exhibition encompasses works in 10 different media — Lopez pays homage to notable artists of 20th-century Hispanic culture while conjuring a personal statement.

Lopez, who lived and was educated in Guadalajara, Mexico, came to the United States later in his career to study printmaking and ceramics at Pasadena City College. He insists that, as a mature artist, he does not consciously try to emulate anyone else’s work. But subtle stylistic influences are undeniable.

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Many of his luminous oils, such as “Dance Dance,” and stoneware portraits of women have hints of the primitive, voluptuous figures of Columbian artist Fernando Botero, their stolidity softened by innocence or a mother’s smile.

The monotypes and dry points are especially compelling and excellently rendered in pieces like “Lluvia” and “Snails.” An etching like “Paseo” has a spooky, ethereal quality that is so finely drawn, it takes several moments of contemplation to take it all in.

But the corazón of much Spanish art, from El Greco to Goya, is wreathed in primeval pain, and Lopez does not shy away from exploring the darker side of the Latin soul.

“Meditation” is a simple portrait of a man’s profile, so unnerving in its stillness, yet so expressive in angst, that one wonders what those tortured lips might say. A cry for mercy or a plea for absolution?

Works like “Harlequin” and “Man with a Robe” are stark renditions of tar on paper (that’s a new use for fossil fuels), tactile and harshly mysterious.

But elsewhere, Lopez gives warm tribute to last century’s artists who laid the foundation for exploration in post-Impressionism. “Mujer con Moño” and “Bull” have progenitors in Kandinsky and Picasso. Red poppies in oil whisper of Georgia O’Keefe. “The Dream” (another oil on canvas), with its upside-down figure of a green, shaded figure holding an umbrella, is a nod to Magritte.

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