Amalia Angulo: Super Happy
Sean Horton (Presents) is pleased to announce Super Happy the debut solo exhibition of paintings by Amalia Angulo. Angulo’s colorful works interrogate the seemingly perfect aspects of 1950s graphic aesthetics through a series of eerily stylized faces and doll-like figures. Using exaggerated facial features and sexualized body forms, Angulo’s subjects confront us with unsettling wide-eyed gazes and stiff smiles, that suggest somethingdisquieting hidden behind each grin.
In My Beautiful Girl, 2022, Angulo masterfully treads between idyllic and unsettling atmospheres. A couple displays an affectionate exchange against a bright blue sky covered with fluffy clouds and a green landscape. The woman’s hyper-blushed face gazes lifelessly toward the viewer while her partner’s swollen hand and claw-like fingernails comb through her hair. Accentuating color and light, Angulo hyperbolizes human physiques, often referencing sexual imagery through bulging contours, flushed skin, and dewy surfaces.
In reference to the feelings embedded in her works, Angulo explains, “ads and other graphic publications of [the 1950s] reflect perfectly the feeling I am conveying and I look for reference in almost everything related to these years, from Marilyn Monroe to candy and other food advertisements. Everything looks so pretty and perfect, bright colors, everybody is smiling, all the clothing looks perfectly tailored…and what scares me the most is what hides behind the perfect smile.”
Angulo’s artistic practice gives priority to drawing, she views her paintings as added dimensions to the lines conceived on paper. As a graphic novel enthusiast, Angulo often translates the artistic conventions of graphic novels and comic art into her works.
Amalia Angulo (b. 1980, Havana, CU) lives and works in Hudson, NY. The artist received a Fine Arts degree from Altos de Chavón School of Design Parsons, DO. She recently completed a residency at Hudson House where she had a solo exhibition titled Happy. Her work has also been featured in exhibitions at Casa de Teatro and Nader Gallery, Santo Domingo, DO.
Q&A with Amalia Angulo
You recently left Cuba to participate in a residency at Hudson House where you had a solo exhibition, Happy, consisting of bright-colored pencil drawings. In what ways did this shift from Cuba to New York affect your creative process?
I left Cuba so long ago. Since then, I visit my family as much as I can. While being there I enjoy being with my loved ones and the weather, the ocean, and other idiosyncrasies of my country, while other things that are happening there are not that enjoyable for me and I start missing home promptly.
Your parents are both very involved in the art world; your father is a sculptor and your mother is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, and painter. How did this proximity to the arts in your upbringing influence your practice?
It just normalizes what for others are exceptional ways of seeing the world or functioning in the world. It made me open and receptive to the diversity of thought and behavior that is present in us.
Throughout your work, there is a recurrence of stylized faces that project wide-eyed gazes, and uneasy, stiff smiles, very reminiscent of marionette faces. Could you share a bit about the origins of these face types in your artistic practice?
I’m very much inspired by body horror movies and dystopian novels. And what scares me the most is what hides behind the perfect smile.
Your recent works from Happy also appear to be rooted in a specific time frame. The 1950s come to mind when looking at the combed hairstyles, collared dresses, and colorful outfits of your subjects. Are there certain aspects of this decade that interest you or influence your work?
I feel like the ads and other graphic publications of these years reflect perfectly the feeling I am conveying and I look for reference in almost everything related to these years, from Marilyn Monroe to candy and other food advertisements. Everything looks so pretty and perfect, bright colors, everybody is smiling, all the clothing looks perfectly tailored.
As a painter and drawer, what does a typical day in your studio or studio space consist of? What other forms of visual art do you glean inspiration from?
I give priority to drawing and I feel that it is a fundamental part of my practice. And then painting is just adding other dimensions to what was conceived with lines on the paper. I am very inspired by graphic novels and comics in general. I marvel at the mastery of many comic artists and I enjoy deeply reading their stories and looking at the fantastic images they are able to create. I find them immensely inspiring.