An artistic lens

“What I’m most excited about in Latin American art today is that artists are not afraid to experiment with new media and new materials,” says Mark S. Roe, Head Curator of the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection. “They seem to feel a great freedom to take ideas from all kinds of sources and run with them in their own direction and style.”

Latin American art also offers a diverse range of approaches, developed through the specific lens of each region. “Whether in Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago or Bogotá—all have their own history and influence,” Mr. Roe continues. “On the other hand, artists nowadays are plugged into the global art scene through the internet, as well as through international art fairs and biennials. So they’re working with similar ideas, processes and materials, but they’re addressing regional issues.”

Material properties

An example is Miler Lagos, a Colombian artist whose work asks the viewer to consider an object’s material properties. Fukugawa Kiba (2011), which is part of the Collection, is made of 7,000 sheets of paper stacked and then sculpted into the shape of a tree trunk. Each piece of paper is imprinted with the image of a lumberyard that belonged to the 19th-century Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige, the last great master of the color woodblock print.

Miler Lagos (Colombian, born 1973), Fukugawa Kiba, 2011, Carved newsprint, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Magnan Metz Gallery

“All of these references—the paper, the lumberyard printed on each sheet of paper, the final sculpted form—all relate back to the tree, back to wood, which is rapidly disappearing through the clearcutting of the Amazon forest,” notes Mr. Roe. “Lagos is referencing formal issues and social issues concurrently in the same piece.”

Open to interpretation

Another artist who works with paper in innovative ways is Kenji Nakama, a Peruvian artist of Japanese decent. “His work manipulating paper and using it in different forms and formats demonstrates a real originality in his approach to this traditional medium,” says Mr. Roe.

Kenji Nakama (Peruvian, born 1982), Untitled, 2013, Bond paper, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, © Kenji Nakama

With Untitled, Mr. Nakama took slices of bond paper that he then arranged and affixed between plates of plexiglass. “The paper eventually folds in on itself and creates swirls, and designs can be interpreted in different ways. It’s rather magical.”

Social structures

Los Carpinteros is a collective of artists from Cuba who make sculptures, installations and drawings. The drawings are not necessarily meant as studies or plans for other works; they are meant to stand on their own.

Los Carpinteros (Cuban), Pico, 2002, Watercolor, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, © Los Carpinteros, Courtesy Sean Kelly, New York

“We acquired Pico (2002), a large-scale watercolor on paper, for our Collection. It’s a very realistic depiction of a cabinet, one that looks like it could be built. In referencing the Tower of Babel, however, Los Carpinteros is also raising the issue of communication—between Cuba and the U.S. at that time, but also the general lack of communication or understanding between people.”

A region often overlooked

Art aficionados and collectors often overlook Latin America. “This means they are missing emerging artists who are creating exciting new work. And they are missing out on artists who have been creating fabulous artwork for many years,” says Mr. Roe.

Painter Victoria Gitman is an example of this. She was born in Argentina and now lives and works in Miami. Working from life, she creates “stunningly naturalistic paintings on a very small scale of fashion objects that she finds in local flea markets, like purses or jewelry,” explains Mr. Roe.

Victoria Gitman (Argentinian, born 1972), Untitled, 2015, Oil on board, JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

Influenced by artists such as Mark Rothko and Sol LeWitt, Gitman refers to her paintings as abstractions, and she chooses each object for its aesthetic value. Like many of her paintings, Untitled (2015) is very small, almost jewel-like, and depicts a handbag that she found covered in colorful fur. “It is rendered in such minute detail that it creates an illusion of the purse actually being there in front of you,” notes Mr. Roe.

The importance of local art

Latin American art has been a part of the Collection from its inception in 1959. The idea behind the Collection was to incorporate art in the workplace to provide a visually and intellectually stimulating environment—the vision of David Rockefeller, who led what was then Chase Manhattan Bank. As the firm expanded, curators of the Collection routinely purchased artworks from local artists for new offices.

“It’s always been part of our process to collect art locally and send some of that art back to New York, and send some art from New York to that office so that there’s always an international mix with an emphasis on the local art scene.”

To learn more about the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection or about estate planning considerations for your collection, we invite you to contact us, and a J.P. Morgan representative will be in touch with you.

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