DANIEL OTERO TORRES




WORKS
BIO
NEWS
CONTACT



















  ︎︎︎
       



                                              
Mark




UBUNTU, UN RÊVE LUCIDE « Six continents ou plus » 

26.11.2021 – 20.02.2022, curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.


Based on documentary research, Daniel Otero Torres’s œuvre is situated in a work of passage and passer-by between media, cultures, and continents. Archive pieces and images found on the internet are the raw material which he uses to question the status of marginalized or ignored communities that have nonetheless played an essential role in contemporary history.

His installation associates sculptures, ceramic pieces and plants under a title inspired from the now famous paraphrase of the words of the anarchist and feminist writer Emma Goldman (1869-1940): “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” The totemic, “dancing” sculptures, proudly decked with accessories, bear witness to the forgotten and overshadowed women fighters in liberation struggles and movements from the 20th century to now. While these works may initially look like large hyperrealist photographs, when looked at more closely, there are meticulously hand-drawn pencil lines on the surfaces of cut-up aluminium. Via this original technique, Daniel Otero Torres succeeds in creating a disjunction of contexts: the images do not depict just one female character, but instead associate several known or unknown combatants in a visual collage, made up of archives linked to different historical period and events. Stray dogs (a reality in towns and villages in many countries) produced in ceramic symbolise the figure of the pariah, excluded but free. The presence of grass, known for their great resistance, beside the sculptures, embodies the resurgence of “the fighting spirit.”

The installation thus stands as the space for an alternative narrative that links us with other points of view about political struggles and the myths of great western stories: who is looking? Who decides? Who writes history?

Exhibition view, UBUNTU, UN RÊVE LUCIDE « Six continents ou plus » curated by. Marie- Anne Yemsi, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.         



Exhibition view, UBUNTU, UN RÊVE LUCIDE « Six continents ou plus » curated by. Marie- Anne Yemsi, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.         



VEINTICUATRO MANOS más cerca, pencil on mirror polished stainless steel, wood, steel, mixed media, 180 x 320 x 70 cm | 2021
   
     

Si no bailas conmigo, no bailas conmigo, pencil on mirror polished stainless steel, steel, 111 x 336 x 85 cm | 2021



Exhibition view, UBUNTU, UN RÊVE LUCIDE « Six continents ou plus » curated by. Marie- Anne Yemsi, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. 
© Aurelien Mole.


 

Si no bailas conmigo, no hago parte de tu revolución, pencil on mirror polished stainless steel, steel, 280 x128 x 64 cm | 2021 
© Aurelien Mole.




Exhibition view, UBUNTU, UN RÊVE LUCIDE « Six continents ou plus » curated by. Marie- Anne Yemsi, Palais de Tokyo, Paris.


Después..., pencil on mirror polished stainless steel, ceramic, steel, 91 x 224 x 162 cm | 2021



El Brugmansias (perro sin dueño / chien sans maître / dog with no master ) ceramic, 65 x 29,5 x 52 cm | 2021
De coca en coca (perro sin dueño / chien sans maître / dog with no master ), ceramic, 58 x 15 x 55 cm  | 2021



El Brugmansias ( perro sin dueño / chien sans maître / dog with no master ), ceramic, 65 x 29,5 x 52 cm | 2021





.




Las huellas del viento

2022, mor charpentier, Paris, France.


In Daniel Otero Torres' first solo exhibition at mor charpentier, mythologies, diverse cultural and iconographic references converge with the artist's personal memories. All of them framed by a manifestation of time that is not linear, but cyclical and multiform, in which different pasts/ presents/futures can coexist, connected to each other by links of meaning. The way in which this imaginary is constructed may remind us of the narrative forms of the magical realism; interweaving the history with the fable, real references and truthful documents with dreamlike and implausible plots. His images transport us, in effect, to a transversal plane of reality, a fertile and propitious terrain for narrative possibilities, as could have been the city of Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

On the upper floor a dialogue between three works is established. Each one of them has a plant as protagonist: corn, banana and poppy flower; all of them filled with an enormous cultural and symbolic load, particularly in Latin America. The work of Daniel Otero Torres is the result of an exercise of awareness, reassessment and perspective of history through its images and emblems. A re-reading that makes possible the construction of spaces for resistance and new allegories for revolution and liberation. The sculpture of the "bananero", which unfolds in the space and seems to sink little by little into the floor of the gallery, is based on an anonymous photograph of a United Fruit Company worker (1913), and evokes the Banana Massacre —a tragic event that ended the strike of Colombian plantation workers in 1928, the magnitude of which differs greatly between the official account and the testimonies— as well as the devastating socioeconomic, political and ecological impact of the commercial activity of this North American company. Known colloquially as "the octopus" for its tentacular expansion throughout Central America and the Caribbean, the UFCO has gone down in history as the paradigm of the exploitation of human and natural resources. military and the CIA to further its interests. In Daniel Otero Torres' sculpture, the sequence of silhouettes of the man bearing the bunch of bananas blends in with the fruit and turns itself into a hybrid gradually rooting in the earth.

A series of paintings unfolds as a backdrop. They are inspired by a childhood memory of the family farm where corn was grown, in a field constantly overflown by birds. This crop has traditionally been the backbone of American societies and constitutes a form of identity and resistance for native peoples. In recent decades, there has been a succession of initiatives sponsored by the big agribusiness lobby —led notably by Monsanto— to develop new laws that criminalize farmers for the free use of seeds. In general, they are prohibited from breeding, adapting and storing grain of "protected" varieties, and some legislation goes so far as to prohibit the non-commercial exchange of unregistered seeds, punishing farmers with fines, prison sentences and confiscation of them. The industry argues that indigenous varieties that do not conform to commercial standards would "contaminate" the "improved" versions. In the face of these measures, voices are raised to defend the social value, beneficial for local economic development and biodiversity, of these peasant or indigenous seeds.

A third work introduces the image of the poppy flower, from which opium and its derivatives are extracted, transforming the exhibition space into a field of flowers of exaggerated proportions in which the stems extend to almost reach the ceiling of the gallery. The farming of Papaver somniferum has enormous historical connotations that extend to the present day. From the Opium Wars — promoted by the British Empire to maintain its commercial hegemony over China—, the conflicts and violence linked to its illegal production and trafficking in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia or Colombia, to the enormous dependence on opiates promoted by the pharmaceutical industry in Western societies. The installation invites to wander among the suspended pieces, and to metaphorically connect the terrestrial plane of the real with that of the altered states of consciousness, floating towards infinity.

In tune with the archaeological references that are often incorporated in his projects, the lower space of the gallery is configured as a sort of hypogeum; an underground realm, like a crypt or an excavated temple, populated by a collection of terracotta vases illustrated with a fascinating iconographic program. The ceramics have been modeled after a variety of sources: Greek, Etruscan, pre-Columbian pottery, or present completely original forms, and their surfaces alternate totemic images with vernacular culture, technology or science fiction. Precisely from the literary field, author and essayist Ursula Le Guin suggests that the first cultural device was probably a recipient, and not another type of tool as we usually imagine. Daniel Otero Torres's vessels emphasize this intimate relationship between the most primordial manifestation of human technology and the sophisticated scientific developments of the present. Between both poles, bridges of symbols are built, anchored on the jubilant allegory of a universe halfway between the archaic and the post-human.


Exhibition view, Las Huellas del Viento, mor charpentier, Paris.



Exhibition view, Las Huellas del Viento, mor charpentier, Paris.



Exhibition view, Las Huellas del Viento, mor charpentier, Paris.








.






HAVE YOU SEEN A HORIZON LATELY ?

2020, curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi, MACAAL, Morocco


With a work grounded in anthropology and multiple expeditions between France and his home country of Colombia, Daniel Otero Torres invites the spectator to rethink the image of a stranger, of otherness. His work oscillates between drawing, photography, collage, sculpture and installation, obscuring all boundaries and operating shifts from one medium to another, one culture to another, one continent to another. In his early pieces, the artist worked form images created or collected during his research among indigenous American populations to construct unexpected assemblages, like chimeras, in which opposite worlds collide.

Since 2017, Daniel Otero Torres has undertaken Asentamientos (Settlements), a research project based upon vernacular architecture of different regions of Colombia. With this project, sponsored by the institute Français program Hors les murs, the artist explores informal housing as imagined and built by social minorities to appropriate an urban space for themselves, in order to adapt within a hostile environment. Like a survival aesthetic, these precarious structures reveal the ingenuity of marginal populations, as demonstrated by the artwork Lluvia (Rain, 2019). This monumental installation is composed of a wood-and-sheet metal framework, upon which streams of water run off to an array of perforated drums, of varying size and material (plastic, metal). As in a domino effect, the water travels across the structure to ultimately reach the basin from which the construction emerges.

This strange fountain is inspired by an encounter between the artist and the Embera community, on the banks of the Atrato River, where he was studying their system for recycling rainwater. This architecture, made of humble and/or recycled materials, is both convoluted and ingenious, acting as a collection as well as a sanitation device, designed to purify water for consumption. In one of the most water-abundant regions of Latin America, populations are forced to invent techniques and imagine systems of adaptation in an environment that has been polluted by illegal gold mining. Lluvia is impressive, both in terms of scale and the familiar sound of rain emanating from it. The spectator is plunged into a state of meditative reflection upon the process of resistance and survival developed among marginal populations when confronted with a contemporary and universal issue: the scarcity of basic need resources.

Exhibition view, HAVE YOU SEEN A HORIZON LATELY?, curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi, MACAAL, Morocco     © Omar Tajmouati




Detail I Lluvia, 2020, mixed media,  435 x 610 x 700 cm



Detail I Lluvia, 2020, mixed media,  435 x 610 x 700 cm




.





TIERRADENTRO

2021, curated by Anaïs Lepage, Drawing Lab Paris. France.


The tittle Tierradentro —“the land of the interior”— derives from an archaeological site located in the north of the Andes in Cauca, Colombia. Protected by its monumental sculptures and its underground tombs, it shelters the vestiges of a vast pre-Hispanic culture known only by fragments.

As point of departure, Daniel Otero Torres updates pre- Columbian knowledge and legends from various regions of Latin America; imagines correspondences with archaic cultures around the Mediterranean, draws inspiration from Hindu and Egyptian deities, and weaves parallels with contemporary events and experiences that are personal to him. Borrowing the gaze of the anthropologist, the naturalist, the physicist, or even the reader of science fiction, he elaborates a hybrid and impure cosmogony made of rubbings and reconciliations.

His practice is thus that of fragmentation, collusion and detail. Each drawing is the result of a process of collecting archival or media images and photographs taken throughout his travels, which he combines into heterogeneous compositions. These combinations are then deployed, enlarged or miniaturized. Stripped of all contextual elements and transposed through the drawing on paper, stainless steel and ceramics.

Through various narrative paths —the forgotten female fighters during the conflicts of the XXth century, the psychotropic powers of the Brugmansia plant, the transformations of the jaguar man, the genetic variations at the origin of the evolution of the species, or the stray dogs answering to multiple names— the exhibition explores the themes of the journey between worlds, the links between sacred and profane, between vernacular cultures and global thinking, between intimate recalls and collective memory.

Tierradentro generates a new system of relationships between time and beings. It is a space where an alternative history of crossings and syncretisms is produced; where the stake is to reflect on what connects us to others from the point of view of the myth, of the political struggles, as much as of the affective and daily life. A place, a vessel, a feeling and a planet, for Daniel Otero Torres, Tierradentro is all of these at once.

Exhibition view, Tierradentro, curated by Anaïs Lepage, Drawing Lab Paris. France     © Olivier Lechat


Exhibition view, Tierradentro, curated by Anaïs Lepage, Drawing Lab Paris, France



Exhibition view, Tierradentro, curated by Anaïs Lepage, Drawing Lab Paris, France


Exhibition view, Tierradentro, curated by Anaïs Lepage, Drawing Lab Paris, France     © Olivier Lechat



Saludando a los sabios, 2021, detail, ceramic,  24 x 49,5 cm.



Exhibition view, Tierradentro, curated by Anaïs Lepage Drawing Lab Paris, France.


Hamaca, 2021, pencil drawing on paper, 122 x 162 cm.



El triple uno, 2020, drawing on stainless steel, metal, mixed media, variable dimensions.




.





ASÍ FUE

2019, The Pill, Istanbul

On the occasion of his first solo show in Istanbul Así fue, the artist will present a new body of works he produced while in residency in Turkey during 2019.
He developed a mythology inspired by his research on the public policies of Turkey’s ‘Kôy Village Institute’. These policies were enacted in the 40’s in order to develop education in the rural zones. Despite their short lifespan, they significantly increased the number of primary schools in the country and their buildings grew exponentially within the decade in which they existed. They were later closed by the conventional political parties.


The corpus of works represent both the people and the processes integral to the construction of these institutes. The central goddess figure is made of a sum of portraits of Anatolian peasants involved in the constructions. The Graduate is composed of different student’s archives while playing an instrument in the schools.

The forms of the ceramic stray dogs are inspired from Hittite and ancient South American sculptures. Found in different countries and specially in Istambul, these dogs without master inhabit and guard the exhibition.


Exhibition view, Así Fue, The Pill, Istambul.



Exhibition view, Así Fue, The Pill, Istambul.




Detail I Ella, 2019, drawing on mirror polished stainless steel, stainless steel, 114 x 238 x 114 cm.



Exhibition view,  Así Fue, The Pill, Istambul

 
Chiens sans maître (III), 2019, ceramic, 66 x 49 x 18 cm.
El Graduado, 2019, mirror polished stainless steel, 122 x 140 x 30 cm.






.





PAROXYSM OF SUBLIME

2019, curated by Anna Milone et Ana Iwataki, Welcome to LACE with Flax Foundation, Los Angeles.



The mobile El Borrachero is a series of arms drawn by pencil on aluminum sheets, depicting the men in the photograph “Machetes” by Sady González taken in Bogotá on April 9, 1948. On this date Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, the Colombian liberal presidential candidate was murdered sparking massive and violent riots in Bogotá called “El Bogotazo”. This episode was followed by decades of violence during the period known as “La Violencia”.
In this work, the artist has torn the machetes and weapons from their hands. They are floating in mid-air with brugmansias, also called Angel’s trumpets and “borrachero” in Colombia. This beautiful yet poisonous flower originates from South America near the Andes and now also blooms in the streets of Los Angeles.

The mesmerizing movement of the elements around the borrachero flower evokes violence as a senseless form of inebriation. The artist takes an interest in images from the past and their ability to intervene in the present.



Exhibition view, PAROXYSM OF SUBLIME,curated by Anna Milone et Ana Iwataki, Welcome to Lace with Flax foundation, Los Angeles.



Detail I Borrachero, 2019, pencil and colored pencil on aluminium, nylon, steel, 700 x 310 x 300 cm.





.






(DÉ)PLACEMENTS

2017, Curated by Sandra Patron, MRAC / Musée régional d’art contemporain, Occitanie / Pyrénées - Méditerranée, Sérignan


From image to sculpture, from a European to a South American culture, from real to its representation, from the original to the copy, Daniel Otero Torres never ceases to question what is the basis of our relationship to the other and how this silent way of seeing is transformed according to social, political and cultural contexts.

With the project (Dé)placements, Daniel Otero Torres began a research on vernacular architecture in Colombia such as the self-built buildings occupying the foothills of cities. With remarkable know-how, this way of living enables individuals to develop forms of resistance by recovering independently. In Bogotá, these shantytowns are called «Invasiones», a term with pejorative connotations that allows to better understand how these neighborhoods are considered by the powers in place: the word is reminiscent of a terminology used both in Europe and in the United States to designate any foreign body as a creeping threat.

In one of the pieces from this project, a bamboo scaffolding like those used across Asia stands imposing in the middle of the space. The half-built house suspended in the middle seems literally invaded by the bamboo structure, offering a reversal of perspective as to its original function. The scaffolding used to build the house has instead swallowed it. On both sides of this installation, Daniel Otero Torres positioned two chairs, which usually house the museum wardens in the exhibition halls. On one of them, in place of the traditional guardian, is a character encountered during a stay of the artist in an Indian community in Colombia, a wandering person who lives a life away from any material concern. To face it is to face an individual who has deliberately made the choice to get away from the logic of our contemporary societies, but it means also to take a look at this figure of the largely ignored museum keeper. On the other chair, a pile of postcards available to the public seems to invite us to travel: the image of a bus named Christopher Columbus unveils humorously how the tourism industry dismisses plays with the cliché of the exotic and that of great discoveries.



Exhibition view, (Dé)placements, curated by Sandra Patron, MRAC Sérignan, France   © Aurelien Mole






Detail I 1:12.5, 2017, bamboo, 3500 bricks of terracota, concrete, steel, mixed media, 300 x 310 x 300 cm.    © Aurelien Mole



1:12.5, 2017, bamboo, 3500 bricks of terracota, concrete, steel, mixed media, 300 x 310 x 300 cm.




.





RENDEZ VOUS 15

Jeune création internationale Biennale de Lyon 2015, Institut d’art contemporain - Villeurbanne/ Rhône-Alpes.


Exhibition view





Homme assis, 2015, pencil on aluminium, steel, glass, human size.




.





ESCALERA & ESCALERA (2)

2018, contreplaqué, matériaux de maquettiste, acrylique, béton, sable, acier, resiplatre, acier,
28 x 135 x 33 cm / à droite: 40 x 135 x 34 cm.








.






TIEMPO SIN VERTE

2018, pencil on aluminium, glass, plantes, steel, 86 x 160 x 49 cm.























Mark