Cuttica Foundation
Thiago Martins de Melo and Martín Palottini work at the Cuttica Foundation's studio. Image credit: María del Mar Caragol.

The New York-based Cuttica Foundation, initially devised by the Argentine Painter Eugenio Cuttica, has kicked off the first edition of its two-month residency program in Brooklyn, which is part of the Cuttica Center for Artist Residencies.

The project is aimed at emerging and mid-career artists seeking to advance their careers through a production-oriented residency program and share their art with the local community, collectors, and curators. The institution rolled out the red carpet earlier this fall for the suis generis Brazilian painter Thiago Martins de Melo and the Argentine master of drawing Martín Palottini, who will be working on their new projects at the Center’s studio until November 2017.

Both the São Luis-born creator, praised for his vibrant paintings depicting the convoluted ties between colonialism and Latin American distinctiveness, and his Porteño neighbor, acclaimed for his intriguing hyperrealist drawings, share an intrinsic existentialist nature in their artworks.

Because New York City’s fire-eating character has never come to a halt, the metropolis has always been a game-changing factor in the career of countless artists, whose peregrination to The Concrete Jungle include sacred places such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

It is no secret that Martins de Melo artworks represent a contemporary voice for unsolved arduous conflicts of the past such as heavy labor, colonialism, and syncretism. And while the fast-paced rhythm of globalization is being tantalized by separatist movements, nuclear threats, terrorism, and protectionism, many also argue we need to iron out the wrinkles of these not-so-old disputes.

Thiago Martins de Melo
Thiago Martins de Melo. Image credit: Miguel San Martín.

“NYC influences my work because it clearly exhibits the parallel ties between first and second-class citizens. It is a very strong relationship. The city’s multiracial urban aesthetic takes me to an intricate, almost-baroque universe,” Martins de melo told The Bubble.

Back in the 1930’s, a young Federico Garcia Lorca would create one of his most eulogized works A Poet in New York,” after witnessing Wall Street’s crash first-hand. Simultaneously, Mexican eminence Diego Rivera would paint Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center, which portrayed a belligerent conflict between America’s capitalism and Lenin’s utopia.

Lorca’s assassination at the hands of Spanish Fascists and the complete eradication of Rivera’s fresco at the Rockefeller Center’s lobby further illustrated that the artists’ narrative made the powerful uncomfortable.

Almost a century later, in a calmed Brooklyn studio, Martins de Melo would create complex scenarios starred by figurative characters performing multi-layer scripts that display a baroque composition.

Thiago Martins de Melo
Thiago Martins de Melo, Barbara Balaclava, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, 2016. Image credit: Mendes Wood DM.

Meanwhile, with only the Hudson River as a barrier and a few congested subway stations away from Cuttica Foundation’s residency center, thousands gathered on October 9 on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue to celebrate —and condemn at the same time— the Columbus Day Parade.

While thousands lauded their Italian-American heritage and paid tribute to the man “who discovered America” during the ceremony, others argued the United States should not celebrate “genocides.”

“Art is a path towards humanization during moments of human crisis. It can surpass any fact and touch each individual’s heart and achieve a collective consciousness change,” Martins told The Bubble.

Once he finishes his work at the residency program in late-October, the Brazilian will continue working on his stop-motion film “Bárbara Balaclava,” while his next special project will take place at the “Untitled” art fair in Miami.

On Monday, at the other side of the residency center, stood Martín Palottini, who held a calabash gourd filled with yerba mate close to his graphite pencils, despite being 5,299 miles away from his home in Buenos Aires.

Palottini, whose artworks have taken part in exhibits in London, Milan, Rome, and Paris, admits it can be challenging for Argentine artists to grow internationally. Even though images travel just after pressing no more than two buttons at a screen nowadays, the country’s location makes it difficult for creators to be present at most of the world’s art hubs, he explained.

Martín Palottini Artist
Martín Palottini. Image credit: María del Mar Caragol.

Some clues that Palottini lets out when he talks about his work are that the human figure is his canvas is an excuse, and that they have to do with the development of a language and the possibility of a very tense composition. He closes saying that his works are open to multiple interpretations.

Being away from home has made the painter gain a sense of alertness that has impacted his current production line, which seeks to evolve into a unique aesthetic language.

In an era of never-ending disputes regarding our perception of the human body’s dimensions and the relationships between gender identity and our nature-imposed carcasses, Palottini’s drawings might tease our Gestalt-driven brains with their multi-angle silhouettes that disintegrate the feminine whole into an entangled sum of its parts.

Martín Palottini Artwork
One of Martín Palotinni’s drawing for his “One River Against Another” series. Image credit: Martín Palottini.

The Argentine’s next exhibit will take place in December at the K Imperial Gallery in San Francisco. He will then join an Argentine gallery at the Lux Art Fair in Luxembourg.

Cuttica Foundation Residency Program Director, María del Mar Caragol, revealed The Bubble the project’s next edition might take place in other cities such as Buenos Aires and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Painting is probably the medium through which many of us romanticized with art on the first place, it has an intrinsic relationship with our understanding of the history of art. It will always grasp our subconscious when encountered with it,” ADDED THE RESIDENCY PROGRAM DIRECTOR MARÍA DEL MAR.

Martín Palotinni
A Martín Palotinni’s drawing for his “One River Against Another” series. Image credit: Martín Palottini.

The 2018 residency program will be holding an open call for artists to submit applications, although the starting date hasn’t been announced yet. The foundation will grant those who overcome the highly competitive selection process access to a studio, housing, and the opportunity to work on a closing exhibition.