As beach crowds swell, Miami's galleries keep opening new exhibitions proving that the off-season shows pack as much of a punch as their winter counterparts. Recently Diana Lowenstein Gallery in Wynwood opened shows by two of Miami's favorites: Chu Teppa, and Alejandra Padilla. Titled "My Parallel Universe" and "Collages & Drawings" respectively, the shows are apt reflections of type of art locals crave. While both artist share Argentina as a home, their work couldn't be more aesthetically orthogonal.
Chu Teppa has been creating a name for herself on the local and international art stages through her mix of doll and icon-like statuary pieces. Part Mayan deity, part Keane painting, these kitschy creations are cute and off putting all at once. Their blank stares act as a neutral surface, on which the viewer can project a host of unconscious associations. Despite their distinctive look, Teppa asserts that her work comes from an entirely ernest place.
“It is a parallel universe I carry within myself," she explained to New Times. "This is how I feel it and my way of expressing it. It is my artistic stamp, the DNA and soul of my work.”
It's a stamp Teppa has been developing since her first show back in 2008 at the now defunct Gino Tozzi Gallery. Born in Cordoba, Argentina, Teppa studied industrial design in her hometown, before moving to Miami in 2000 and developing an interest in children's mythology. Ever since her distinct work received loads of mentions at various Pulse Miami fairs, she's been setting her sights on the international markets with shows in London, and Bologna.
While fairly innocent in character, there are elements in her work that seem somewhat confrontational. Her creations tend to break the artistic third wall, gazing back at their viewers as if to return the objectifying gaze with which they're contemplated. Yet, layered on top of all of it is a campy aesthetic and unique sense of humor. Her statues seem like appropriations of schmaltzy dollar-store tchotchkes everyone's grandmother owned. It's a mixing of symbols and metaphors that ends up interesting the viewer with its sheer ambiguity.
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Padilla's work recalls a modern sensibility. Looking at her pieces, one can't help but draw comparisons with Piet Mondrian and Barnett Newman, both stalwarts of color field and abstract expressionism. Despite the clean lines, and colorful zips that take up most of her pieces, there's something much warmer in Padilla's work. The sense of proportion and color in many of her pieces are also drawn from the native and folk art of her homeland. It's a loose connection, but a seminal one that distinguishes her work from the rest of the pact.
Born in San Miguel de Tucuman, Padilla currently lives and works in Buenos Aires where she's been channeling her specific brand of creativity for a number of years. While deeply personal, Padilla explains that her work is also tied to philosophical and mathematical concepts imbued within Newman's oeuvre.
"I find inspiration in the distilling of the unique proportions and mathematical formulas that each composition requires," Padilla says of her work. "The clearest influences are, in fact, abstract expressionism, to achieve the perfect proportions and the color necessary to create the most powerful visual impact."
To get a first hand look at what Padilla and Teppa have to offer, head on over to Diana Lowenstein Gallery, 2043 N. Miami Ave., Miami, through the end of the month.