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Latin American Art  
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Roberto Márquez

Roberto Márquez (b. 1958) is noted for his smooth, polished style. He has made a name for himself with dreamlike, revealing self-portraits and contemplative, humanistic nudes of both sexes. His mood-filled paintings are highly accessible and easy to assimilate, but contain disturbing elements that question gender and other boundaries in the manner of Julio Galán. For example, one of Márquez's portraits shows himself as Christ with stigmata, thus appropriating religious iconography and suggesting his own identification with Christ.

Carla Rippey

Although born in Kansas, Carla Rippey (b. 1950) has made Mexico her home. She is one of the few creators of specifically lesbian art in Latin America. Some of her paintings, especially her sensitive female nudes, bravely explore such themes as female narcissism. Bleys describes her painting Quisiera ser como tú (1989) as "inscribed with a lesbian imaginaire."

Other openly homosexual artists in Mexico include Manuel Rodríguez Lozano (1896-1971), who illustrated Federico García Lorca's poem Oda a Walt Whitman. El Pensador (1936), and the brothers Emilio Baz Viaud (1918-1991) and Ben Hur Baz Viaud (b. 1906), who are best known for their portraits. Among lesbian artists must be included Elena Villaseñor (b. 1974), whose work has an erotic flavor; and Patricia Torres (b. 1963), who depicts lesbian sexuality using cartoon imagery and monochromatic surfaces.


Although she worked mainly in Paris and was directly connected to the Surrealists, Argentine-born Léonor Fini (1908-1996) resisted labels of all kinds. She set out to be a new type of completely autonomous woman. Although she was largely self-taught, she was brought up in Trieste and thus exposed directly to European influences and was influenced by artists such as Aubrey Beardsley.

Fini's work is finely crafted and dream-like, containing recurring imagery such as rotting vegetables, masks, drapery, and provocative nymphets. In this sense her paintings have the flavor of the visionary work of the Symbolists, though she is often categorized as a Surrealist.

According to Emmanuel Cooper, Fini's work has a "cruel kindness." A fine example of this quality is her painting Le long du chemin (1966), which depicts two women, one of whom is about to disrobe the other while she is reclining passively in a trance. The atmosphere is charged with sexual tension.


Chilean Alvaro Guevara (1894-1957) came to England in the 1920s and found himself closely allied with Duncan Grant's Bloomsbury circle and Roger Fry's Omega workshop artists. Guevara's tall, handsome demeanor attracted many people of both sexes. Though he was not open about his male lovers, he often painted male nudes in a style similar to that of Grant and other modernists.


Another Latin American artist who was influenced by English and European art was Luis Caballero (1949-1995), who was born in Colombia. Caballero, like many in South America, was an ardent admirer of English neo-figurative painter Francis Bacon. His skilled draftsmanship reveals the influence of Spanish painting.

The prime subject of Caballero's work is the nude male body, in various contorted, ecstatic reclining poses. His declared aim was "to show but not to relate." Some of his larger works have a Romantic excess worthy of Géricault. This excess was subsequently toned down, yet there remained in his figures an unusual force and energy. He once declared that they were painted "with semen, not turpentine."


As in Mexico, in Brazil muralism was valued as a public art. Most muralists conveyed a nationalist, socialist, anti-bourgeois sentiment in their murals.

Such was the case with Candido Portinari (1903-1962), yet he also painted laborers with a decidedly sensual feel. Little is known of the artist's sexual interests, yet his work is decidedly homoerotic. His O, Mestizo (1934), for example, portrays the rich brown flesh tones and full lips of his local model.

Likewise, nothing can be gathered about the sexual orientation of Hugo Adami (b. 1900), but his painting O Fugitivo (1934) dwells lovingly on the perspiring flesh of a reclining black male.

Hélio Oiticica

In Brazil evolved a Neo Concretism that paralleled the conceptual art movement in Europe and the United States. Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) was influenced by the abstract work of Russian painter Casimir Malevich and signed the Neo Concretists' manifesto in 1959. He traveled to England, but settled in New York.

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