Thursday Salute to Originals: Black Bean Pop Art
The Campbell’s Soup Cans series by Andy Warhol become a cultural icon and marker of an era. Selecting a commercial mundane product as the subject of fine art was indeed controversial in 1962, even misunderstood or overlooked in its early release. But the historical impact of Warhol’s work had a broader implication for Pop Art and the concept of commodity. His legacy proved that with a simple transfer to canvas, even the most banal items of modern civilization could be elevated to art.
Fast forward into 2016 and a contemporary artist is taking on the same subjects, this time following a narrower focus of consumption related to ethnicity. Dave Ortiz, a New York artist of Puerto Rican descent, created The Goya Series as a direct relation to Warhol’s work (the initial motive he recounts as “jokingly [making] a Puerto Rican Andy Warhol”). Creating silkscreens of various food products from the Goya brand, Ortiz showcases on canvas “the main menu ingredients” of his Hispanic upbringing.
The silkscreening process involves taking a photograph of the product, separating its colors, and creating a plate for each hue. As the print layers are built up, each shifts a bit resulting in a composition of bold colors with a slightly blurred imperfection. The perceivable departure from actual photograph reminds us that objects and memories are altered by time, clouded by layers of interpretation, and subject to both the viewer’s and maker’s relationship to the subject at hand.
For Ortiz, the Goya brand stirs strong childhood memories and he seeks out audiences that can connect to his personal cultural experience, displaying his work at New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade. Today we salute Dave Ortiz for demonstrating, in a simple reincarnation, that food can define both a culture at large and an individual memory.