Agustin Portillo: America

February 3 - March 25, 2005
Curator: Nathan Harpaz

America - D.86, 2003, Oil on canvas, 48 x 68 in.

Into a world of indifference and cynicism, Agustin Portillo exhales a fresh breath of bold activism. Even as his style has evolved from fantastic realism to pop art, and most recently to expressive realism, Portillo’s sincere and courageous observations of human erosion remain.
Portillo’s passionate nature and self-determination was first expressed on the streets of his native Mexico City. Moving beyond imagery to real activism, Portillo painted graffiti on an office wall at the National Counsel for the Culture and Arts, and organized a hunger strike in front of the Palace of Fine Art to protest the injustice of the government towards artists. He was resolute in his actions—even though the consequences included leaving his native country. For the last four years Portillo has called Chicago his home.
Upon his arrival in the United States, Portillo started a new series titled America, in which he continues to observe various angles of human decay. These paintings depict diverse ethnic groups at parties or other festive gatherings. Instead of celebrating their cultural uniqueness, Portillo’s subjects find themselves occupied in the same shallow activities as a result of globalization and pop culture. 

America - C.07, 2003, Oil on canvas, 48 x 68 in.
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America - P.01, 2002, Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in., Private Collection, Chicago
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