- Alejandro Otero 1921–1990
- Original title
- Postigo y Etiqueta
- Painted wood and metal
- Object: 470 x 323 x 60 mm
- Purchased with funds provided by the American Patrons of Tate, courtesy of the Latin American Acquisitions Committee 2010
Shutter and Label 1962 combines a found shutter with a round knob on its right-hand side and a metal label which has been attached to the front of the shutter near the bottom. Both the shutter and the label have been painted white, with the exception of a strip down the left side of the shutter. This has been left unpainted, its dark brown wood contrasting with the white paint applied to the rest of the object. The work belongs to a series of mostly white monochrome collage-reliefs which Otero made during the early 1960s using found objects. They usually combined ordinary household or art-related utensils and detritus, with a support made from other found objects such as worn wooden planks.
The artist described how this body of work came about:
What I did after 1961 can be related not so much to Pop as to what was then called ‘new realism’ … It was an art which had not only abolished the traditional limits between painting and sculpture, but was neither the one nor the other. Everything was made out of material taken from the street, the trash-bin, the junkman. These residues, almost all used and worn out by people, seemed to me to conserve all the import of the signs human beings had put upon them. As elements of language they seemed to me weighed with significance beyond any other object invented by the artist.
(Quoted in Balza 1977, p.80.)
Otero emerged in the post-war era as an experimental painter, becoming one of the central figures in the Venezuelan op and kinetic movement, which coincided with Venezuela’s era of development and prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s. In contrast to some of his contemporaries, such as Jésus Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez, Otero pursued the activation of the eye by purely pictorial means and through the use of colour. This Colour-rhythms (Colorritmos) series, begun in 1955, explored the optical effects of coloured squares and grids. They were shown alongside the monochrome assemblage works, which were exhibited alongside Otero’s earlier op art paintings in his solo exhibition at the Signals Gallery, London, in January–March 1966, which was entitled A Quarter of a Century of the Beautiful Art of Alejandro Otero 1940–1965.
A Quarter of a Century of the Beautiful Art of Alejandro Otero 1940–1965, exhibition catalogue, Signals Gallery, London 1966.
Jose Balza, Alejandro Otero, Milan 1977.
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