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Enrique Chagoya Le Temps Peut Passer Vite or Lentemente
Arnaldo Roche-Rabell The Black Man Always Hides His Left Hand
Enrique Chagoya Rousseau and the Young Ladies
Enrique Chagoya Martyrdom of St. Andrew
Jose Bedia Las Pasiones
Jose Bedia Sacrifio
Jose Bedia Nkunia Mbele
Luis Cruz Azaceta
Carlos Alfonzo Head I
Carlos Alfonzo Chairs and Figures
Rosana Palazyan Mae-Filho/Mother-Son
Rosana Palazyan Mae e Filho/Mother and Son
Installation View

Press Release

During November and December the George Adams Gallery will feature Saints, Sinners and Sacrifices: Religious Imagery in Contemporary Latin American Art. The exhibition will include 13 paintings and works on paper by seven artists: Carlos Alfonzo, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Jose Bedia, Enrique Chagoya, Rosana Palazyan, Arnaldo Roche-Rabell and Nahum Zenil.

Saints, Sinners and Sacrifices is not an exhibition of religious paintings and drawing per se, but an examination of the usage - often without apparent religious overtone - of such imagery in the contemporary art in of the Caribbean and the other Americas.

For example, Nahum Zenil's Self-portrait with Angels shows artist with a flight of small, winged self-portraits emanating from his head; rather than depicting his elevation to sainthood, Zenil here refers to artistic inspiration. On the other hand, Carlos Alfonzo's Figure and Chair, 1991, an apparent abstract composition, contains explicit religious imagery recognizable only once the symbols are deciphered. The central form emerging from out of a box in the lower is the many-eyed Yemaya. Her power is represented by two curlicue lines that are a specific reference to a weightlifter's arm, and her sanctity is further reinforced by three arrows piercing her back, a reference to the martyrdom of Saint Sebastion. This work, it turns out, is closely related to another painting by Alfonzo made the same year titled God in the Studio as is made clear by the presence of the artist himself in the form of a eyeball resting on a chair to the right. Roche-Rabell's The Black Man Always Hides His Left Hand, 1993, carries an obvious religious reference: the fingertips of the hand of the title appear as five Santos. But that Roche's intent is not so simple may be gleaned by the title: the left hand is traditionally associated with the sinister, which in the painting now appears as the right.   In fact the painting, once the iconography of the other elements such as the doilies and the next are understood as an ironic commentary on racism in the Caribbean.

Other works in the show include, for example, Bedia's Sacrifio which depicts a tree figure holding a rooster and a knife over the head of a young boy, an image inspired by the coming-of-age traditions shared by Palo Monte and Judaism. Palazyan's depiction of the death of her brothers appears as a pieta stitched in thread. Chagoya Time Passes depicts an African fetish cannibalizes Picasso in Monet's garden, Azaceta  over-size canvas Latin American Victims shows a bound, nude figure impaled on stakes.

Exhibition Checklist

Clockwise from the right:

1. Carlos Alfonzo
Chairs and Figure, 1989
oil on canvas
65 x 61 inches
CALp 3

2. Rosana Palazyan
Mae-Filho/Mother-Son, 1997
embroidery on dress
39 1/2 x 17 inches
RPs 01

3. Luis Cruz Azaceta
Latin American Victims of Dictators, Oppression, Torture, and Murder, 1987
acrylic on canvas
76 1/2 x 168 inches
LCAp 64

4. Rosana Palazyan
Mae e Filho/Mother and Son, 1996
embroidery on baby blanket
30 x 19 1/2 inches
RPs 07

5. Arnaldo Roche-Rabell
The Black Man Always Hides His Left Hand, 1993
oil on canvas
78 x 78 inches
ARp 49

6. Jose Bedia
Las Pasiones, 1997
acrylic on paper
38 x 49 3/4 inches
JoBd 31

7. Enrique Chagoya
Martyrdom of St. Andrew, 1997
acrylic, ink on paper
19 x 25 inches
ECd 4

8. Enrique Chagoya
Rousseau and the Young Ladies, 1997
acrylic, ink on paper
19 x 25 inches
ECd 5

9. Jose Bedia
Sacrifio, 1999
acrylic and conte on canvas
99 x 59 1/2 inches
JoBp 80

10. Jose Bedia
Nkunia Mbele, 1999
acrylic on canvas
71 1/2 x 99 3/4 inches
JoBp 81

11. Enrique Chagoya
Le Temps Peut Passer Vite or Lentemente, 1999
mixed media on Amate paper
47 x 47 inches
ECd 3

12. Carlos Alfonzo
Head I, 1990
monotype, ink on paper
31 x 22 1/2 inches
CALd 6

13. Nahum Zenil
Self-Portraits with Angels, 1992
ink, collage on paper
38 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches
NZd 1