A Rustling in the Leaves Drives Him Away

Angel Otero, 1981

A Rustling in the Leaves Drives Him Away, 2015

The artist Angel Otero was born in 1981 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. He lives and works in Chicago and New York. His process-based approach involves both traditional and unconventional methods. His earlier oil paintings incorporated memories of his family, his hometown, and his life. He later made works containing textual references, and compositions that point to art history, while deploying their narratives mostly through abstraction.

Otero’s oil paintings begin as literal outpourings on glass or Plexiglas. When the paint is nearly dry, he scrapes it off the glass as if peeling away a skin, giving shape to the composition without too much intentional intervention or control; the unexpected moment at which the final shape is revealed is exciting and unexpected. Then, taking a sculptural or collage-like approach, he transfers the layer of oil paint onto a canvas, producing wrinkles and waves, and thereby a textural, topographical narrative. To these sloping, sprawling, dense textures of paint, he adds various materials found in his studio. He uses each color as a separate layer in paintings that activate the sense of touch and overflow the plane.

In his recent paintings, Otero takes as a starting point prints and etchings by leading names in art history, thereby associating his own production process with the past of abstract art to create a new language. He combines his own imaginary world with traces of such artists as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Jeanette Winters, El Greco, Claude Poussin, Cy Twombly, and Diego Velázquez. While the peeling technique determines the composition and enforces the abstraction of the work, it is during this process that the artist decides on the size of the painting, its layers, and what to add or remove. “A Rustling in the Leaves Drives Him Away”, from the “Picasso” series, is inspired by literature and songs. To make it, the artist ventured deeper into painting as a fundamental form of expression, drawing references from Picasso. In doing so he preserved the link between abstract and contemporary art—according to Otero, the transition from representation to abstraction enables the expansion of abstract art. Thus, in his recent work, he prefers to use a plain language of abstraction rather than references to the origins of the art of painting.




Oil paint and fabric collaged on canvas

Credit Line

Oya – Bülent Eczacıbaşı Collection

Istanbul Museum of Modern Art / Long term loan