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Carolyn Castaño, Hair Boy No. 5, 2004, © Carolyn Castano, Los Angeles
Deutsche Bank Collection

The fact that the young Latin American scene forms an important focus of Deutsche Bank’s new acquisitions in America is also demonstrated by the works of the Mexican artist Marco Arce and the Colombian-born Carolyn Castaño. While Arce’s The Tiger Series borrows from comics, picture books, and packaging design to portray the mythological figure of the tiger as a powerful masculine emblem in a wide array of graphic compositions, Castaño’s delicate Hair Boys seem clearly androgynous.

Carolyn Castaño, Hair Boy No. 4, 2004, © Carolyn Castano, Los Angeles
Deutsche Bank Collection

"Latina Pop" is the term the artist uses both for her colorful drawings, which are highly stylized to the point of kitsch, and her collages covered with feathers, sequins, and glitter, which mirror a culture fascinated by sex, drugs, money, and beauty. A central motif of Castaño’s work is the sensuous and subversive reversal of gender roles. Her works evince elements of glam rock as well as the influence of Mexican film or the decadence of the fin de siècle.

Neeta Madahar, Sustenance No. 87, 2003,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Neeta Madahar, courtesy Galerie Poller, Frankfurt a.M./ New York

As with Castaño’s work, aesthetic exaggeration also forms a part of Neeta Madahar’s strategy. Yet the London-based artist deliberately concentrates on unspectacular, "natural" images such as the titmouse in a winter feeding spot that appears in a flash photograph of her Sustenance series of 2003. In its crystalline clarity, the image seems as artificial as a natural history museum diorama or a Christmas card. Over the course of a year-long sojourn in New England, Madahar observed the birds as they gathered together in the tree outside her balcony. Regarding this series, Madahar remarked that "it is difficult to resist projecting human behavior and characteristics on these creatures." While they look oddly alien and dramatically stylized, her observations of feeding scenes seem weighted with cultural projections; more subliminally, they pose highly emotional questions concerning a sense of home, cultural belonging, and migration.

Kamrooz Aram,
Mystical Visions and Cosmic Vibrations, 2005,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © The Artist and Oliver Kamm/SBE Gallery

In very different ways, these themes are relevant to all artists in the Recent Acquisitions show – regardless of whether the works borrow on cartoons, films, fairy tales, or traditional art forms or refer to metaphysics or political issues. In highly contemporary ways, they pursue questions of cultural origin and a reality determined by globalization, which in a city like New York is anything but homogenous. This also becomes clear in the photo series by Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao that won last year’s New York Times competition Capture the Times.

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao, LIRR, Hunters Point, 2004,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Jeff Chien HSING Liao, 2004; Edna Condinale for Jeff Chien HSING Liao, Julie Saul Gallery, New York

At the age of 18, the Taiwan-born artist emigrated to Canada; later, he studied photography at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The point of departure for his 2004 series Habitat 7 is the No. 7 subway line that connects Times Square with the borough of Queens. Liao rode this subway on a daily basis for several years. The various ethnic communities that have settled there outside the windows of the elevated train reminded him of a river on whose banks civilizations arise. Liao transformed this image into a series of photographic panoramas that together form a portrait of the densely populated area: "While I’ve been living along the ‘International Express’ for years, I am still constantly awed by the complexity of the communities formed alongside it as well as by the harmonious co-existence of so many people of distinct ethnic backgrounds … I’ve come to see the 7 train as a habitat of these immigrant settlers who pursue the typical ‘American dream’ while upholding their ethnic traditions." In this vein, Recent Acquisitions could also be understood as an exhibition that presents artists from a wide variety of backgrounds, the majority of which live and work in the United States. Despite its diverse aesthetic and conceptual approaches, the show’s critical examination of idealized notions concerning an increasingly homogenized Global Village remains consistent throughout.

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