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Article

Margarita González Arredondo

revised by Ana Garduño

(b Mexico City, Jun 10, 1940).

Mexican painter, sculptor, illustrator, and stage designer. Coen was self-taught when he took up painting in 1956 with the encouragement of Diego Rivera, but from 1956 to 1960 he studied graphic design with the American publicist Gordon Jones. During those years he worked in an Abstract Expressionist manner, although he soon incorporated figurative elements and, from around 1963 onward, elements of fantasy.

In the 1950s until the early 1970s, he was one of the indispensable creators of the collective exhibitions organized by the Juan Martín Gallery, the most important platform for vanguard art in Mexico City at that time. This gallery also dedicated four individual exhibitions to the work of Coen. In 1967 he went to Paris on a French government grant. In the following year he was a founder-member of the Salón Independiente, where he began to exhibit acrylic sculptures of the female torso.

He systematically returned to working the image of the feminine. These were followed between ...

Article

Aleca le Blanc

(b Grão Mogol, Minas Gerais State, April 25, 1944; d Montes Claros, Minas Gerais State, March 28, 1986).

Brazilian painter. Colares worked in Rio de Janeiro during the country’s military dictatorship (1964–85), his work synthesizing the Constructivist sensibilities of Brazil’s Concrete artists of the 1950s with the rapidly expanding urban visual culture of Rio de Janeiro. Originally from a small rural town, Colares moved to Rio de Janeiro to study art in 1965 at the age of 21. He became acquainted with young avant-garde artists such as Antonio Manuel (b 1947), Antônio Dias, and Hélio Oiticica, and participated in the landmark exhibition Nova objetividade brasileira at the Museu de Arte Moderna in 1967.

Having rejected his civil engineer training, he dedicated his attention to courses at the Escola de Belas Artes and Ivan Serpa’s influential Open Studio at the Museu de Arte Moderna. There he learnt about the European avant-garde and figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, and Giacomo Balla, who became important aesthetic reference points. In an interview with curator Frederico Morais, he stated, ‘the painting that most influenced me was Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp’. Colares translated the dynamism and structure of the European tradition into his own large paintings that depicted the bright colours, high velocity, and multitude of buses constantly moving through Rio’s urban centre. The compositions took on a geometric format and Colares painted representations of fragments of the vehicles—headlights, body, and grilles—into the discrete spaces of the configuration, frequently in the form of a grid. That Colares only captured a snippet of the bus re-enacts the pedestrian’s visual experience; as they hurtle by at high speed, one can only comprehend a fraction of the vehicle before it has passed. Colares executed these by applying industrial paint to aluminium panels, creating a shiny and blemish-free image of urban life. And while this approach to the serial repetition of consumer culture creates an obvious visual link to the contemporaneous Pop art movement in the USA, Colares’ paintings cannot be divorced from the circumstances of the military dictatorship in Brazil, which legalized surveillance and censorship. Although not overtly political, it is impossible to know whether these paintings celebrate or criticize life in Rio de Janeiro. Many artists working in Brazil at the time created works with similar interpretive ambiguity, a mechanism by which one could potentially insert veiled political criticism and still avoid punishment....