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b. 1981, Puerto Rico

Angel Otero Biography

New York- and Chicago-based Puerto Rican artist Angel Otero is known for his deconstructive abstract paintings, collages, and sculptures. His highly process-based works explore materiality in conjunction with personal memory and identity.

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Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1981, Otero studied at the Universidad de Puerto Rico before receiving a Merit Recognition Scholarship to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, he attained a BFA in 2007 and an MFA in 2009.

In 2009, Otero featured in his first major solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta Gallery in New York. It was the same year that the artist appeared in an institutional show: Constellations (2009) at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm, the show explored various and unique approaches to painting dating from the 1940s to the present.

From the outset, Angel Otero's art has pushed the boundaries of painting through a deconstructive and reconstructive method that explores and utilises the inherent qualities of oil paint.

His process resembles an unconventional form of collage. Otero begins by painting representational imagery onto large sheets of glass; as the paint starts to dry he scrapes skins of oil paint from the surface, which are then reassembled and applied to a new surface—be that a canvas, tapestry, or even steel sculpture—to create multi-layered abstract compositions.

More than just an exploration of the versatility of oil paint as a medium, those rearranged and reconstituted elements become fragments of a history enacted by the material.

In much of Angel Otero's early work, such as Esperanza (2010) and Left to Wonder (2011), these elements came from the same skin which he would cut, carve into, and paint over.

These paintings drew inspiration from personal memories based on photographs and physical mementos, which he then fused with the art historical canon through evocations of gestures by painters like Picasso, Poussin, and de Kooning.

As Otero's career progressed and he produced more works, his studio accumulated materials he would first capitalise on in 2017 when he introduced a new series of works in Elegies, a solo show at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. For this new series, the artist created free-hanging large-scale paintings, from fragments of discarded paintings and cuttings, which had been gathering dust in his studio for years.

Engaging simultaneously with painterly concerns of line, colour, and form, the artist applies these fragments in a manner akin to singular brush strokes. Offering a diverse palette, these elements make for more colourful and intricate compositions.

Found materials have long been a component of the artist's sculptures and paintings. Among other things, his works over the years have incorporated chair caning, handmade lace, and chandelier strands, utilising objects with associated memories from his childhood spent in Puerto Rico. For the 2019 exhibition Milagros at Lehmann Maupin in New York, Otero presented works incorporating milagros: Catholic charms that the artist received as family heirlooms.

With his works gaining broad attention both on the American and international art scene, Otero has featured in numerous solo and group shows across the United States, and several overseas, in Mumbai, the Canary Islands, Hong Kong, and Seoul. This includes institutional shows, including at the Chicago Cultural Center (2010), the SCAD Museum of Art (2013), CAAM - Atlantic Center of Modern Art in the Canary Islands, and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in Texas (2016).

His work features in several major collections, including The Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in Istanbul, Turkey; the UBS Art Collection in Chicago, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, Virginia.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Angel Otero
featured artworks

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Flying Luck by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting, mixed media, textile
Angel Otero Flying Luck, 2024 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
121.9 x 184.5 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Request Price & Availability
Summer Madness by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting, textile
Angel Otero Summer Madness, 2023 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
241.3 x 241.3 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Request Price & Availability
Wet Books by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting
Angel Otero Wet Books, 2023 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
152.4 x 91.4 x 3.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Request Price & Availability
La Victoria by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting
Angel Otero La Victoria, 2013 Oil paint and oil paint skins collaged on canvas
245.1 x 368.3 x 11.4 cm
Lehmann Maupin Request Price & Availability
Untitled (SP-HN) by Angel Otero contemporary artwork sculpture
Angel Otero Untitled (SP-HN), 2012 Iron, porcelain, and paint
154.9 x 121.9 x 58.4 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
It’s Ok, They Live With Me So I’m Never Alone by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting
Angel Otero It’s Ok, They Live With Me So I’m Never Alone, 2020 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
80 x 78 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request Price & Availability
Muddy Waters by Angel Otero contemporary artwork painting
Angel Otero Muddy Waters, 2020 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
44 x 32 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request Price & Availability
Wind Chimes by Angel Otero contemporary artwork mixed media
Angel Otero Wind Chimes, 2015 Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas
243.8 x 182.9 x 6.4 cm
Lehmann Maupin Request Price & Availability
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