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Riders on the Storm

Riders on the Storm
signed, titled and dated 'Angel Otero 2019 "Riders On the Storm"' (on the reverse)
oil and fabric collage on canvas
84 x 60in. (213.5 x 152.5cm.)
Executed in 2019
Lehmann Maupin, New York,
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Evening Sale, Head of Department

Lot Essay

A towering, textural profusion of colour and movement, Riders on the Storm (2019) is a vibrant example of Angel Otero’s distinctive abstract practice. Over a canvas more than two metres high, blazing flurries of magenta, green, yellow, orange and blue churn together with an energy worthy of the work’s tempestuous title. Its dynamic force conjures the work of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, all of whom inspired the artist from a young age. Otero’s process, however, is unique: he begins by painting in oils on a Plexiglas surface affixed to the wall. He applies multiple, overlapping layers and images over days or weeks, until, while the accrued pigment is half-dry, Otero scrapes it off completely to release a thick skin of paint. This ‘oil skin’ is then draped and collaged onto canvas with others—sometimes incorporating found fabrics and scraps of earlier, discarded compositions—before being painted on further. Otero first developed this technique in his final years studying at the Art Institute of Chicago, and has brought it to ever more intricate heights. With its rich combination of collaged paint, sgraffito and exuberant brushwork, Riders on the Storm exemplifies the fully-fledged expressive power of his work, which uses the notion of layering to explore enmeshed narratives of art history and personal, biographical memory.

Born in Puerto Rico in 1981, Otero received both his BFA and MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 2009. He faced a steep learning curve upon his arrival. ‘Other students would ask me, “Who is your favourite contemporary artist?”’, he remembers. ‘And I’d say, “Jackson Pollock,” and they would burst out laughing’ (A. Otero, quoted in V. Di Liscia, ‘Painter Angel Otero on Solitude and What It Means When You Can’t Go Home’, Hyperallergic, 14 August 2020). Pollock, however, remained a guiding spirit as Otero developed his practice, which is grounded in individuality, gesture and expression. While wary of being pigeonholed as a diasporic artist focused on identity—he sees himself as more materialist than storyteller—ideas of memory, reconfiguration and the making and unmaking of self come through in the almost baroque layers of his works, which explore paint as both a conceptual and physical body. Riders on the Storm’s rich surface is a zone where past and present are in constant conversation, with all life’s revisions, superimpositions and accumulations coming together in a hurricane of feeling.

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