If you spot a woman with cropped, curly hair and wide-rimmed glasses sitting in a cafe with colored pencils strewn across her table, chances are you’ve caught María Luque at work. Although not a native porteña, her drawings and watercolors that playfully record the personalities of old-school cafes and pizzerias will have you thinking otherwise. A sense of mischievousness and nostalgia, and a wild style that borders on the kiddish, create big worlds despite her preference for small formatted pieces. Among our favorites is a series of delicate watercolors that imagine what goes on behind the scenes of the world’s most famous museums and artists’ studios.
We have a hard time imagining photographer Romina Ressia suiting up every day to work in the finance department of a large multinational. But throughout her twenties that is exactly what she did. At 29 she left the corporate world to switch from casually creating artwork to dedicating herself full-time to photography. Mostly self-taught, Ressia approaches her portraits with the mind of a painter, juxtaposing contemporary figures with the classicism of a Renaissance artist. Her subjects are styled in classic garb and lit using a chiaroscuro-type effect while eating popcorn or smiling enough to reveal a set of braces, giving a timelessness to modern, often disposable, objects and attitudes.
Nicolás Romero Escalada
It would be a hard task to walk the streets of Buenos Aires and not come across a work by Nicolás Romero Escalada; he has been painting murals for nearly two decades under the name Ever. And not only do his many creations feel integral to the city’s landscape, they're also difficult to miss. His works often explore religious and political themes — Communist leader Chairman Mao frequently appears — with bursts of shape and color literally exploding from the eyes or heads of his subjects.
A painting by Alejandro Pasquale in the window of art store Quorum stopped us in our tracks. It was a print from his latest show, Parallel Universes, a series of portraits of children stuck in their own imaginations. We rushed to catch the show at Galería Quimera before the end of its run — and were glad we did. Pasquale’s large-format paintings of children surrounded by dense nature and hidden behind masks are reflections of memories of his own childhood spent in Neuquén, the forested Eastern Argentine state that borders the Andes, and an obsession with gardening sacred plants.
Ezequiel Montero Swinnen
Photos that look like paintings that look like sculptures. This is how photographer, installation artist and designer Ezequiel Montero Swinnen describes his photographs, and we couldn’t agree more (and we wish we could take pictures like this). Swinnen’s photography is a controlled chaos: Many of his recent works record a single fleeting moment as he throws fabrics, sheets and papers into the air and photographs them as they dance down to the ground. His work is dedicated to pressing pause and recording an instant of silence — imagine a white sheet floating in the air like a cloud illuminated by the light of a sunset.
Luz Peuscovich has traveled throughout Argentina (and more recently to an isolated tribal island in Panama) to collect organic objects found in nature. She delicately pieces together broken branches, leaves, shells, hollowed-out exoskeletons and fallen seed pods using traditional weaving techniques. Viewers are invited to interact directly with the installation pieces — all the more jarring when walking off a busy urban street — to create a new connection between spectator and nature.
A pioneer of the Buenos Aires street-art scene, Franco Fasoli got his start as a teen in the late 1990s painting in the streets under the name JAZ. Although today his work is mostly contained to canvas, the large-scale mural tradition remains a strong theme. His work often depicts savage fight scenes — lucha libre, boxing, sumo and hooliganism — with his modern chimera subjects sporting human bodies and the heads of beasts. More recently he has begun to explore the same themes with sculpture and collage, the latter utilizing colorful pieces of paper that make the flat medium pop off the wall.
The world of Paula Duró is immediately arresting. It's hard to take your eyes off the mystic universe that she paints with boisterous brush strokes. Her work combines wild depictions of nature, magic and space that blur any perceptions of reality. But exploring her paintings as a whole is a completely different trip. Flipping through her oeuvre gives us the sensation of sitting around a warm bonfire while we listen to a wise sage pass down his history to us. Recent collaborations with artist Alejandro Sordi, who explores similar themes of ritual, history and folklore, add an extra rich layer to an ever-evolving story.
We discovered Delfina Estrada through her work at Fábrica de Estampas, a studio that she runs in Saavedra that offers classes on old press techniques like stamping and engraving. But it was a solo show at Ruby Galería that really caught our attention. As the medium itself might suggest, Estrada values an old-school aesthetic in her exploration of press techniques on a spectrum of highly conceptual to more illustrative works. While her conceptual pieces are understated studies of imprints of a press or simple shapes stamped onto paper, her more elaborate works feel like lucky discoveries. Estrada transmits worlds that look ripped from a forgotten encyclopedia or a centuries-old first edition that has serendipitously been unearthed from a dusty pile of antique books.
Leo Hereter worked mostly behind the scenes before his work came to our attention at a solo show at Dinámica late last year. Previously he has worked as a carpenter, produced editorials and designed catalogs for the Recoleta gallery Van Riel. His understated approach to design and carpentry stands at a slight juxtaposition to his wild drawing style. In La Colonia he re-creates memories of his childhood in the northern region of Misiones via a series of black-and-white drawings in which animals blend into the landscapes.