Saatchi Art: The Power of Pop: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Pop art is often framed as a historical art movement distinct to the US and Europe, but in recent years that dominant narrative has been challenged by contemporary artists and institutions shedding light on the rich array of Pop art around the world.
Characterized by the appropriation of imagery from mass media—saturated colors, flattened graphics, dizzying repetition, and omnipresent consumer and pop culture icons—the visual strategies of Pop art have become ubiquitous. Today, Latino/a and Latin American artists harness those techniques and their communicative capacity to create resonant artworks about their own political, social, and artistic experiences. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Saatchi Art presents works by contemporary artists exploring the power and potential of Pop art throughout Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the US.
Historically, Pop art in Latin America has been marked by a political edge even more pronounced than its Anglo-American counterparts. In 1960s and ‘70s New York, Andy Warhol churned out artworks via assembly line and Roy Lichtenstein riffed on comic-style image production—each parodying Western consumer culture. Meanwhile throughout Latin America, artists also contended with the pervasiveness of Western consumerism while overtly exposing its colonialist foundations and implications. Grappling with the direct impact of American military and economic intervention on their own countries, celebrated artists like Rubens Gerchman in Brazil and Beatriz González in Colombia turned to Pop as a means of artistic protest.
Many of the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition continue to negotiate the cultural and personal effects of these hemispheric power relations. Painter Rodrigo Jimenez-Ortega grew up on the US-Mexico border, absorbing the culture and media output of each country. Now he juxtaposes elements of each in his work, putting cartoon characters, video games, and ancient statuary in discomfiting dialogue. Cuban artist Carlos Gamez de Francisco explores power relations through traditional royal portraiture peppered with everyday consumer objects to represent both those who have power and those without. Cueva Wolf and Alexa Torre Rodriguez draw on the rich colors and traditions of their native Mexico to address indigenous and female representation—and stereotypes—through celebratory photographs. In Brazil, hyperrealist painter Eric Carrazo creates a meta-conversation, exploring the tropes of Pop art itself to address the art world as a consumer market today.
Taken together, the artists in this exhibition epitomize Pop art as an ever-evolving and expansive visual strategy that can be harnessed to express the personal and the political—and expose the ties between them.