Friday, March 30, 2007

American Association of Editorial Cartoonists to exhibit in DC

Dave Astor scooped this one out from under my nose - the AAEC will be exhibiting cartoons at their 50th-anniversary exhibit at American University's Katzen Arts Center. Unfortunately, as Dave (we've emailed enough to be on a first-name basis, so there) reports, they didn't get enough cartoons to do 50 years of presidential elections, so they're just focusing on the current administration. Sigh.

The Katzen's a brand-spankin-new arts space with some interesting shows. They did one cartoon show already. Let's see if I can find my International J. of Comic Art review...

...whoops this is a long one. From issue 8-1. If I get any requests, I'll post the pictures.

Comic Reality: Political Cartoons by Ibero-American Artists, Juan Carlos Vila, Washington, DC: Katzen Arts Center at American University, January 17-February 1, 2006.

Juan Carlos Vila of Guatemala, with his counterparts in the Association of Ibero-American Cultural Attachés (AACI), put together an excellent exhibit that sampled highlights of Spanish-speaking countries’ political cartoonists. The exhibit was located in American University’s brand-new arts center, which is a flowing concrete structure filled with light and oddly-shaped walls. The art, grouped by countries in alphabetical order, hung in a long oval third floor gallery, and included approximately 58 pieces beginning at Argentina and ending with Venezuela. More cartoons were apparently provided to the Center, as the press release lists 100 cartoons, and the show’s booklet includes cartoonists and works not on display. A rarely-seen disclaimer, stating that the cartoons did not represent the views of each country’s ambassadors, flanked either end of the show; unsurprisingly on reflection, since most of the caricatures were of the country’s ruling political powers, or, due to current events like the Iraq war, and world leaders such as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.
While the show had a small booklet to accompany it, these will be hard to find as it was already out of stock. By country, the exhibit included:
Argentina - Carlos Nine, a very fine caricaturist whose work can infrequently be seen in the New Yorker. His watercolor and crayon drawing of Carlos Saúl Menem, a politician wearing a toupé or ‘el gato’ – a cat, was a highlight of the show.
Bolivia – represented by three cartoonists. Joaquin Cuevas had a digital political cartoon of Pope Benedict XVI chasing a condom. Alejandro Archondo, showing the range of American popular culture, represented Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. Trond Scheen Korsjoen, formally of Norway, contributed a very odd piece in which he drew George Bush as Scarface, Batman’s evil puppet enemy, with Dick Cheney as the Ventriloquist.
Brazil – two pieces by Chico Caruso showing three leaders in each. His drawing of Bush overshadowed by Churchill, John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt would be easily understood by an American audience, although his style is somewhat different than an American would have drawn.
Chile – Jimmy Scott draws large-headed caricatures like David Levine. He does an excellent Condoleezza Rice.
Columbia – Vladimir ‘Vladdo’ Florez’s work has been seen in IJOCA before (6:1), and his three cartoons were excellent. In “Kid’s Game,” he depicted Bush, Blair and the Spanish president as trying to assemble a toy kit labeled ‘war.’ Vladdo’s superb parody of Mastercard ads, “No Negociable,” showed a soldier with various equipment labeled with prices, but his punch line “War crimes: priceless” indicated his support for the International Criminal Court.
Costa Rica – Oscar ‘Oki’ Sierra Quintero’s caricatures of big-headed celebrities are done in very bright colors, atypical of American caricatures.
Dominican Republic – Harold Priego was represented by a traditional-style cartoon about taxes and two big-head caricatures. He appears to work, or augment his cartoons with computer effects.
Ecuador – Roque Maldonado did a traditional cartoon of the president as the doctor treating his country. Francisco Cajas Lara is a caricaturist very much in the style of David Levine’s older pen and ink work and had a very nice drawing of Hugo Chávez in the show. His view is that Chávez is not as authoritarian as the United States government would suggest.
El Salvador – cartoonists Mario Enrique ‘KIKE’ Castañeda and Ricardo ‘Alecus’ Clement both displayed traditional-style editorial cartoons.
Guatemala – Elizandro de los Angeles showed three caricatures including a fine one of the former president as the palm of a hand.
Honduras – Allan McDonald’s three illustrations were all critical of corporations. “El Ché Company Inc.” reproduced the famous photograph in corporate names and trademarks. “Juan Pablo Marketing,” a cartoon of the Pope as a crucified UPC symbol and Marx Disney, a caricature of Karl Marx as a Mousketeer were both hard-hitting works.
Mexico – traditional political cartoons by Abel Quezada and ‘Feggo.’ Quezada’s “Inventos Politicos V,” or Political Invention 5 was an automatic flatterer robot for politicians to buy – and a very good cartoon. Feggo’s cartoon was of Mexicans climbing a work permit as a ladder to get over the walls surrounding the US.
Nicaragua – Manuel Guillen’s cartoons were typical of Oliphant-influenced American works, and with slightly-changed topics could appear in any American paper without looking at all foreign.
Panama – Julio Enrique ‘RAC’ Briceño had three very colorful caricatures in watercolor and gouache, in a style unfamiliar to American traditions.
Paraguay – self-taught Enzo Pertile was influenced by European cartoons. His “Politics and its Vices” showed a fat politician, wearing a mask and gloves, and eating grapes while reclining on a plinth. While a typical subject for editorial cartoonists, Pertile’s mastery of line made this a highlight of the show. His “Warm Mantle” of Tony Blair wrapped in the flag was technically fine, but less interesting.
Peru – Andres Edery’s “Reconciliation” was a traditional cartoon showing the head of the opposition party as a suicide bomber. Carlos Miquel ‘Carlín’ Tovar Samanez, whom the catalogue notes “is reputed to be the best Peruvian Cartoonist” is apparently strongly influenced by American movies as he drew the Peruvian president in scenes from The Matrix and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Portugal – Seemingly stuck in an earlier day, ‘Vasco’ did an interesting drawing of Adolph Hitler, while ‘Antonio’ caricatured Charles de Gaulle. Rui Pimentel’s caricature portraying Bush and Blair as Siamese twins about to light a fuse to explode the earth, as Bush says, “After one year, the world is much safer!” was clear and well-done.
Spain – Andres ‘EL ROTO’ Rabago Garcia may have been the most graphically-interesting choice, except perhaps for Uruguay’s. EL ROTO’s deceptively simple watercolor and ink works were extraordinarily attractive. His “Submerged Economy’ of an underwater Chinese laborer pulling a ship, was painted in flat muted orange above the ocean and flat green below, and had a very simple line, but was perhaps the best image in the show.
Uruguay – Hanoch Piven may have been born in Uruguay, but he has really been a citizen of the world. Piven makes caricatures out of paper, paint and objects. His George Bush had Bazooka gum wrappers for eyebrows, blue marbles for eyes, a dart with American flag fletching for a nose, and a purple feather for a mouth. Boris Yeltsin was depicted using sliced lunch meats. His work can be seen in the book What Presidents Are Made Of.
Venezuala – Régulo Pérez’s “El Alba Sale para Todos” (The Alba Shines for Everyone) was a disappointing caricature of the sun with a face.
In the accompanying booklet, Murilo Gabrielli of Brazil noted the aims of the exhibit: The choice of political caricatures as the theme of the Art Salon fulfills three goals. First, it exhibits to the U.S. public a small but significant sample of the long tradition of political satire in the Ibero-American countries. Second, while doing so, it testifies to the vigor of democracy and freedom of expression in our countries. Last, but surely not least – for this is an Art Salon – it highlights the artistic aspect of caricatures, the presence of which is so routine and familiar in the pages of newspapers and magazines that we sometimes forget how esthetically (sic) striking each such cartoon can be.

The exhibit met these goals, and could easily have filled a larger space, or stayed up for a longer period. It was a fine overview of the wider world of editorial cartooning and caricature which seem under threat in the United States.


richardcthompson said...

Shoot, they had a Carlos Nine and I missed it. And by only a year and a coupla months, too.

Mike Rhode said...

Well, I've got the PR material around somewhere... I just checked the photos and his art wasn't one that I got a picture of.