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Kemper Museum presents Diario, a new, commissioned installation by New York-based artist Angel Otero
Angel Otero, Diario, 2019, oil skins on fabric with wire and found objects, approximately 168 x 168 x 7 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

KANSAS CITY, MO.- Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art presents Diario, a new, commissioned installation by New York-based artist Angel Otero (b. 1981), the fourth in a series of Atrium Projects at Kemper Museum. Opening Friday, August 23, a free talk by the artist will take place from 6:00–7:00 p.m. followed by an Artist Dinner celebrating Kemper Museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary year.

The artist’s largest painting to date, Diario underscores the personal and universal significance of leaving a mark somewhere. The exhibition will remain on view through July 19, 2020.

Otero’s physically rigorous and experimental processes and techniques over the past decade continue to push the boundaries of painting and abstraction. Early in his career Otero developed a process whereby he would create representational works on large sheets of glass. He would then scrape the partially dried oil paint off of the surface, and reassemble the “oil skins,” as he refers to them, into multi-layered abstract collage compositions. For this installation, Otero took his process a step further by using previously discarded paintings and cut scraps from works he had saved in his studio over the past several years to compose a new painting, Diario.

Otero incorporates years of salvaged materials from his studio into this network of shapes and marks that are complexly puzzled together. This action of reclaiming older works parallels his longtime interest in retrieving memories from his childhood in Puerto Rico that are inlaid physically and conceptually into the painting.

By fusing these histories Otero creates a compelling composition of painting and found object, individual and layered brush strokes, and carefully selected objects—many found in antique shops throughout Kansas City—to emphasize the significance of leaving a mark somewhere, whether large or small, biographical or omnipresent, hidden or revealed. In allowing some elements to rise to the foreground and others to recede, Otero creates a sense of intimacy, much like the content included in the pages of a private diary, hints of which begin to unfold for the viewer from within the layers of paint and canvas or from one’s own personal narrative imbedded in the familiar patterns of the crocheted material and parts of curled iron gates peeking out from areas of the painting.

“Diario pays homage to the varying ways we record our lives, making our presence known in the world, by honoring those who have come before, those who we know and love in the present, and those who may engage in the future with the objects and marks we leave behind,” writes Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs at Kemper Museum.

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