Eagle: Black on Black
c2009 by Agamemnon Otero
Otero’s work is characteristic for its thick bold colour, arresting in its brilliant immediacy and dominance over the canvas. It is interesting then that for his motif of the eagle he steers clear of colour in a series of silk-screen prints; Eagle: Black on Black being the darkest of them all. Here the eagle, that he consistently prints in black, is printed in high gloss on a background of expressive strokes in matt. The strength and vigour that is usually behind Otero’s use of colour is still present, shape and object are blocked in boldly, paint thickly clinging to expression of form, but the usual end result is turned on its head as contrast of colour is demonstrably absent, replaced by an illusive change in surface. Here it is black that dominates within Otero’s usual Fauvist inspired articulation of colour, allowing for an interesting conflict of expectation and a subtlety of effect. The upturned wings of the eagle are barely visible in their inky sky, an outline of a shadow or a glint of a shimmer; we see them briefly and with a pang of uncertainty, as if catching movement in the dark. This hinting of subject and space, realist but not exact, is given through the sheer expressive nature of the brush strokes: feathery they flutter like wings, and the uneven sides of the background quiver with the movement of flight. The use of one colour rather than many gives this work a unity, a joining of creature and habitat; we have the power and possession of this bird over his skies.