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From Peru to Puerto Rico... Crossing Cultures!!

by  on 01 September, 2013 Be the first to comment!

The decision to exhibit Peruvian art was one made by Mr. Jorge Dominguez since he was born and raised in Peru and now was a successful business owner in Puerto Rico. This paper briefly discusses the process by which one decides first on whether to proceed with an exhibition and the requirements associated with putting on an exhibition in another country.

The concept of organizing an exhibition in Puerto Rico was quite intriguing for a number of reasons. Foremost was my never having visited the region but having heard positive things about it. Aside from my desire to visit the region it was then necessary to determine the probability of a successful exhibition not the least of which would be financial success which would have to be at a minimum neutral to positive. Since I represent Latin American artists and Puerto Rico certainly qualifies as Latin it would provide an opportunity to explore artists operating in the region for whom I could hopefully represent outside of the region. It could also represent a market for a wider range of Latin American artists which would also be desirable and could only be determined with a first foray into the region. Much of this type of activity is determined by networking. Initially I collected the opinion of people I trusted who were from the region and were knowledgeable of the preferences with regard to art. A close personal Ms. Elizabeth Figueroa was born and raised in Puerto Rico and now calls Ottawa home. She is well connected in the region and travels back and forth between Ottawa and Puerto Rico. It was her opinion that some of the Peruvian artists would be well received in the region and that the area had sufficient personal individual wealth to justify a conservative approach. Mr. Jorge Dominguez was also very supportive of the idea and volunteered the space in his restaurant/gallery for the event. This is no doubt offset by his marketing of his restaurant at the same time the exhibition takes place. The next steps which occurred over a significant period of time was to determine what the market might be, what artists would be perceived favourably out of the Peruvian artists I represent and the costs and logistics of the exhibition. Some of these activities were iterative.

Puerto Rico as a Market for Peruvian Art

Puerto Rico is a colony of the United states. The islands that make up Puerto Rico were  claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of Spanish colonial rule, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. It is also a bilingual colony with both Spanish and English being the official languages. The population is a little over 3.5 million people with a literacy rate of 94.1 percent. Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region, however, growth has been negative for the past four years, and unemployment rose to nearly 16% in 2011. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008. A large number of individuals retire to the region because of the stable tropical climate and amenities similar to the rest of the continental North America. GDP per capita is about $20,000 US.

I did not find a breakdown of wealth by any segment of the population but it appears to be a prosperous society with laws similar to the United States of  America but very Latin due to its long Spanish heritage. This data confirmed the anecdotal information that I had been provided. Paintings that had been purchased by people of Latin American heritage in Canada from the artists I represented all sought dramatic colour and style thus supporting the anecdotal statements that the works of Peruvain artists would be appreciated. Most of the above data was obtained from the US Central Intelligence Agency Factbook and other internet sources at the inception of the proposed exhibition.

Tentative dates were established and other information was collected all of a practical nature specific to the exhibit such as gallery space, framing capability, existing lighting, import and export issues, accomodation, travel and a host of other smaller issues. Last was the selection of Peruvian artists for the exhibition out of the fourteen that I represent.

Selection of Artists

 Anecdotal communication indicated a desire for colour and vibrancy in the works to be taken. The motif to be selected was contemporary impressionism. It was my belief that if the works spoke too greatly of Peru the potential clients would not be able to relate yet the works still had to speak of  Peru. I wished to cover a spectrum of price ranges yet not overwhelm the exhibition with a large number of artists. I decided to exhibit three prominent Peruvian artists that would cover a price and size range as well as varying technics and palates. First I selected Pedro Caballero whose works admittedly speak strongly of Peru taking the risk that while the costs for his works might exceed the market expectation and the Peruvian specificity might not be appreciated his works nontheless strongly represented Peru. Joselito Sabogal another very prominent Peruvian artist was selected since his works were known to be favoured by some purchasers of Puerto Rican origins in Canada who were drawn to his works. His works still spoke of Peru but in a manner not as intense as Caballero. Lastly I selected Borka Sattler whose works do not speak strictly of Peruvian origins as does the artist who is well known and regarded in Peru. Following are brief profiles of the artists selected with examples of their works.

Selected Artists Profiles and example Works

Pedro Caballero Pérez

Pedro was born in Cajabamba, Peru in 1954, studied at the School of fine Arts in Lima and often travels to Europe to pursue personal studies at Museums in Paris and Madrid.

Pedros work is rooted in pre-columbian iconography. His work has been described as an inceasing struggle between the figurative and the abstract bound together with an obsessive study of pre-Columbian textiles particularly those of the Paracus and Chancay cultures. Each of his compositions is framed within one or more rectangles using planes that overlap in messgaes about timelessness, history, and perceived reality. In his second step he addds symbolic elements like papers, pre-columbiam dolls, feathers, blankets, rope and other artifacts as personal symbolic elements bringing extremes together. In his words it is “my way of extending my culture”. His work is composed of vibrant earth colours with incredible attention to detail of the symbolic items in his works with Peruvian imagery imbedded in the works that with only close and repeated scrutiny comes to the attention of the observer.

 Figure 1. Pedro Caballero Perez, “Nido”, 2009, Oil on Canvas, 69 cm x 79 cm, private collection Puerto Rico.

Joselito Sabogal

Born in Cajamarca and raised in Trujillo, Sabogal studied at Macedonio de la Torre School of Art in Trujillo and later in France at Lemons School of Art. He then studied in Helsinki, Finland.

Sabogals paintings are elegant, sensual, and extracted from his mental universes and of his states of conscience. His work introduces great complexity pulling together several concepts that clearly arise from the world of dreams. There is an element that is not free of irony in his work. Sabogal uses symbols to create a world of allegorical appearances, using human figures who have an elaborated character, extrapolating its contents, its souls. He transmutes forms, adopting animals as if they were human personages, and feminine figures as if they were symbols. Sabogal cultivates the discipline of drawing, and presents to us his facility in using the color by zones, here and there, nourishing shades, expressing details and in so doing creates magical world. His work results in unreal worlds, formed by beings who are half men half animals, with landscapes that do not exist more than in their essential forms, trees that are geometries, skies that are walls, forms in the space that have replaced the clouds. One is left with the sensation of floating, or of weightlessness as he harnesses these surreal aspects.


             Figure 2. Joselito Sabogal, “Minotauro en su Laberinto”, (2013), Oil on Canvas, 79 cm x 50 cm, in possession of Lilia Faulkner.

 Borka Sattler

Sattler, born in Lima Peru, and studied at the Catholic University of Peru in Lima where she obtained her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree. She later studied under the artist Leonor Vinatea in Lima Peru.

Sattler work can best be described as abstract expressionism. Borkas’ expressionism is based on forms and images of both her recent past and those of the culture of Peru which incorporates many Peruvian cultures as well as those of the European migrants who conquered Peru. She draws on a tremendous energy to create the images that have come to be appreciated in Peru and elsewhere in the world. Her figures are passionate and of a large and plastique linear articulation. Her palette is sometimes rough and shiny and at other times with earth tones. Some of her works also exhibit a very fine touch. This often results in works of great force, strength and splendor.



                          Figure 3. Borka Sattler, “Emociones Ludicas”, Acrylic on canvas, 140 cm x 120 cm, in possession of Lilia Faulkner.

Exhibition Preparation

Marketing information had been established and transferred to Puerto Rico prior to departure and after the works had been selected. Information was disseminated to the anticipated market starting two weeks before the exhibition. Four pictures from Borka Sattler, five pictures from Pedro Caballero Pérez and seven of Joselito Sabogal’s works were shipped to Puerto Rico. Upon arrival a prior identified framer was engaged to prepare the paintings for display. The paintings were then arranged and displayed on easels the day before the opening of the exhibition. 

Results of Exhibition

The exhibition ran for three days and on the first day in excess of one hundred people circulated through the gallery. This number was almost in excess of what could comfortably be handled in the space. There was a great deal of praise for the works of Caballero and particularly Sabogal.  One of Caballero paintings sold that evening and three of Sabogal’s sold as well. A couple of the works were placed on reserve and left on consignment with a local gallery. The trip was marginally financially successful. Following are two photos of the opening night.


  Figure 4. Opening night of Exhibit at Perurrican, Borka and Caballero works in background


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