Contemporary Colombian artist Santiago Montoya has just opened Surfin’ USA, his exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery in London. Open to the public until February 12, 2017, this showcase highlights Montoya’s unique exploration into the cultural and political issues of the United States of America; here is a body of work filled with the artist’s signature pop art aesthetics and his favorite medium of choice – currency.
Throughout the gallery, Montoya’s meticulously orchestrated arrangements are abundant, bringing attention to the way he cuts, stretches and rolls the U.S. Dollar, the British Pound, and beyond, to even the far reaches of the Stock Exchange; all building onto his career-long visual dictionary where cash is both a canvas and a raw material – a platform to be altered, discussed and explored.
Onto his canvases he translates the vocabulary of Warhol and his own pop art aesthetics; out in full force at this exhibit are Mickey Mouse, The Velvet Underground and charts of the globe. These may be familiar images for us, but ones with which he has woven several subject matters, social-political issues and his vibrant sense of humor; something we’re rather hand-pressed to find in today’s political climate.
For example: The inspiration for the collection, a large triptych titled “Surfin’ USA,” portrays a surfing Mickey Mouse inspired by Walt Disney’s “Wild Waves” cartoon first aired in 1929. This is a subtle tie-in between the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the ongoing financial crisis that seemed to rear its ugly head in 2016.
Highly resourceful and creative with his medium, Montoya’s exhibit Surfin’ USA, further highlights his already countless remarkable works. This is pop art at its best – when even the resources are a part of the dialogue – and it’s certainly worth a visit. But you won’t have to wait for long for another chance to view his works.
If you can’t make it by the Halcyon Gallery (located at 144-146 New Bond Street, London W1S 2PF), Montoya is currently showing his body of works The Great Swindle at the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) in Washington, D.C., until March 2017. The first mid-career museum retrospective of Montoya’s work in the United States, this exhibit more-completely demonstrates how radically he interrogates our society’s beliefs in value and in the financial system – and, really, the power of money.
Brent Taalur Ramsey is an American freelance writer living in Paris.