Otero’s second solo show at Lehmann Maupin features a new group of sculptures made from steel and porcelain, two materials the artist began experimenting with in 2012. A selection of new abstract paintings will also be exhibited in tandem with the sculptures. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, 12 September from 6 to 8 PM.
Otero’s process-based approach to painting and sculpture is rooted in a dedication to experimentation and discovery within both his chosen materials and the artist’s own psyche. In his new body of sculptures, the artist combines two traditional and ubiquitous materials—steel and porcelain—and pushes their integration to unexpected, and often paradoxical, results. The final gate-like structures conjure feelings of security and protection while also evoking a delicate and precious nature. Beginning with familiar domestic materials, Otero exposes them to intense heat and incites a simultaneous action of destruction and creation as the materials meld together. Through this process, both the steel and porcelain take on new characteristics and together challenge the preconceptions and ideas classically associated with each material.
Otero’s experimental and spontaneous paintings are deeply informed by the history of art and recall the gestural work of Abstract Expressionists painters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Through his investigational approach, Otero combines the traditional act of painting with his innovative creation of “oil skins,” produced by layering oil paint on glass and then peeling it off in “sheets” before transferring it to canvas. In all of his work, including the four new paintings on view, Otero pushes the medium by treating paint as a three-dimensional material with its own physical properties and textures. In addition to his physical relationship to the medium, Otero often calls upon personal narrative or memories as a starting point for his paintings. These initial references are then reworked, explored, and eventually hidden within layers of paint and obscured through the artist’s intensive process. The resulting paintings hint at an original reference, but like a memory, the image is no longer completely recognizable or tangible. The title of the exhibition, Gates of Horn and Ivory, references Greek literature and alludes to the divergence between the artist’s personal memories and how they are revealed through his work.