On the second floor of Moulton Hall hangs a series of paintings done by Albert Contreras. For those who venture up there, the art piece is hard to ignore. The works are colorful, optimistic, dynamic, and homogeneous but delightfully out-of-step symmetric. Each of the twelve parts is an X-gesture formed in a jello-like acrylic substance mixed by Albert Contreras himself.
These paintings were donated by the artist in 2010 and made in 2009 after a 25-year hiatus from painting all together. Given that Contreras is in his eighties, it’s not completely improbable; the fact that he worked as a city truck driver during that break seems far-fetched, but indeed, this extraordinary man operated heavy equipment and resurfaced asphalt streets with no intention of reclaiming his art.
Before the blue collar job, Contreras held a highly regarded place in the Swedish art world. He had five solo shows and curators from Stockholm Museum of Modern Art, Malmö Konsthall and the Göteborgs Konstmuseum all collected his work. Now, he is playing catch up: his work may be chronologically mature but it is done with such passion and sense of urgency that his age contradicts his youthfulness. His current apartment even functions as an art studio or a factory: the kitchen is where he mixes his materials and the bedroom acts as a storage. The works are overtaking his living space, so he gives them away. Chapman is among a number of school such as USC, Syracuse University, Howard University and University of Pennsylvania who have received a donation from the artist. Contreras possess a truly inspiring and unique work ethic that will hopefully motivate our art students to create with similar vigor.
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