With explosions in color and heavily textured brush strokes, Angel Otero’s paintings reflect his childhood experiences in his native Puerto Rico. Subtle clues among the work’s seemingly chaotic nature allows one to piece together excitement, passion and abstracted narratives. A light blue, translucent funnel in “George’s Quick Visit” alludes to Hurricane Georges, with scribbled black lines representing carnage that the storm reaped on the isle. A heavily swirled mesh of turquoise, olive and fluorescent green below could be a tempestuous sea or a field of crops, pieces ripped up from the surface as specks of acrylic dance beneath the funnel. In other more abstract pieces the narrative is harder to decipher, more indicative of moods of the Puerto Rican community as it deals with, as Otero says, the “limitations of poorness.” Scattered acrylic strokes of rough, rose, mustard and teal mixed with scribbled crayon in “Eight Foot Two” evoke the disarray and excitement of Carnivale. But intentional unbalance and color clashes make any solid narrative fleeting. The texture and vibrant color in Otero’s work gives the viewer much decipher in his “puzzles of paint.” (Ben Broeren)
Through May 13 at Contemporary Art Workshop, 542 West Grant Place, (773)472-4004.