Inspired by the work Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996), ARCOmadrid 2020 brought thought-provoking artwork together around the theme of It’s Just a Matter of Time. Gonzalez-Torres had a conceptual and minimalist aesthetic. He is best known for poetically conveying his personal experience of love and loss through sculpture, installation, and photography.

Almost 25 years later, three generations of artists have turned to the more traditional disciplines of drawing and painting to convey personal feelings and experience. Brandl uses painting as a means to process trauma; Lerma paints to come to terms with his own personal biography in the context of art history; and younger artists, Surman and Ponce de Leon, both discuss painting/drawing as a process of thinking.

Herbert Brandl

Herbert Brandl, Untitled. 2019
Herbert Brandl, Untitled. 2019

Herbert Brandl (b. 1959) is a well-established Austrian painter and considered a part of the “New Wild” movement of Neo-Expressionists. Brandl creates both figurative and abstract work, always employing vibrant colors and gestural mark-making to create large-format paintings that strongly convey both emotion and atmosphere. In Untitled, above, Brandl surrounds a field of yellow with vibrant greens and magentas that creates both a sense of depth as well as movement and energy. The artist has stated that his work as a way of processing traumatic situations and troublesome events, such as accidents or death. This summer there will be two major solo exhibitions of the artist’s work: Ultra Hybrid, at  Kunsthaus Graz and Bad RomanceKünstlerhaus, Halle für Kunst & Medien, Graz, both from July 3 – October 18, 2020. Brandl lives and works in Vienna.

José Lerma

José Lerma, Fallen Red. 2019 at ARCOmadrid 2020
José Lerma, Fallen Red. 2019

All art is about other art and about your parents.

José Lerma

José Lerma was born in Spain (1971), grew up in Puerto Rico, and currently lives and works in Chicago where he is a professor at the School of the Art Institute. Over the years, he has explored themes including portraiture, the intersection of history and personal mythology, the heroic and the pathetic. He is principally interested in painting and drawing, but often his work is shown as part of an installation. Represented at ARCOmadrid by Leyendecker, Lerma’s most recent multi-media works are richly layered compositions incorporating a variety of found materials.

David Surman

Herbert Brandl, Untitled. 2019
David Surman, Akita Painting, 2019

The overarching idea that shapes my work today has to do with identity… as a queer man and as a child of the internet, I’m very comfortable with playing with identity and exploring multiple/secret lives.

David Surman

David Surman (b. 1981) is a British artist with a long professional and personal engagement with film, animation, video games and the world of the Internet, Surman notes that electronic media has shaped his hand and his eye. In contrast to the conceptual, relational, and minimalist approach Gonzalez-Torres, David Surman (b. 1981) has embraced the process of painting. Rather than creating a painting to make a statement about the world, he sees painting as a process of thinking; as a method of slow lateral thinking. Yet, painting has been fundamentally changed by electronic media, it is networked with the sea of information online, which has transformed the way that people interact with it.

Rita Ponce de León

Rita Ponce de León, Manuel and Mairim, facing each other. 2019 at ARCOmadrid 2020
Rita Ponce de León, Manuel and Mairim, facing each other. 2019

My first impulse to make my ideas in the field of arts become real, is to draw. Drawing has allowed me to think in a particularly intuitive way; it has carved new paths in my brain, transforming the way in which I experience reality. 

Rita Ponce de León

Rita Ponce de León (b. 1982) is a Peruvian artist who studied art in Mexico City, where she currently lives and works. Like Surman, Ponce de Leon is a younger artist who would have grown up as a digital native. Interestingly, she also conceives of drawing as a process that lets her think in a unique way which transforms her experience of reality. She discusses her work as a visual interpretation of those interactions with other people, and she wants to understand how her drawings are interpreted by the viewer, who she hopes will find their own meaning and interpretation in her work.

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