Karlo Andrei Ibarra’s “Cumulative Failures”


Puerto Rican artist Karlo Andrei Ibarra’s “Cumulative Failures” is presently on view at Galería ATM in Gijón (Asturias, Spain). Mariela Fullana Acosta reviews the exhibition for El Nuevo Día (article accessed via Autogiro: Crónica urbana).

Anyone who knows Puerto Rican artist Karlo Andrei Ibarra knows that he proceeds without detours. His work is meant to make people uncomfortable and to invite reflection through a playful proposal in which everyday objects intervene, as he turns them into gestures and political comments.


Thus, a yellow sign reading “Cuidado piso mojado” [Caution: wet floor] is transformed into a warning of “Cuidado gobierno resbala” [Caution: Government slips] as reflected in a piece from 2011. A cobblestone becomes heavy “Equipaje” [Baggage] (2013) and the official portraits of “Los Honorables” [The Honorables] (2016) merge into a single image, as we are unable to distinguish between one governor and another.

It is enough to review some of his works to understand the complexity and depth of Ibarra’s oeuvre; he uses diverse means to approach a political and social discourse reinforced by references and allusions to literature and history. In the artist’s work, nothing is a surplus. Everything is meticulously thought-out, conceptualized, and executed.

His irreverent creativity—and interest in studying situations such as globalization, migration and identity—has attracted the attention of various galleries and museums around the world as demonstrated by the places where he has exhibited his work. Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Canada, Holland, Romania, Poland, Norway, Taiwan, and China are some of the countries where his work has had resonance.


With his proposal, Karlo Andrei Ibarra arrived on September 23 in Gijón, in Asturias (Spain) to carry out an artist’s residency and then put together an exhibition titled “Cumulative Failures” at ATM Contemporary Gallery. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in Europe, which presents an opportunity for further visibility of Puerto Rican contemporary art. The artist was invited to participate in this residency / exhibition by Diego Suárez, owner of the gallery, who, together with the Instituto de Visión de Bogotá [Institute of Vision of Bogotá] made this experience possible.

Ibarra will work some new pieces from that residence, but will also include recently created works, such as “Mano brújula” [Compass Hand] with which he incites the viewer to address the issue of social limbo, which is so present in his work. The piece, a black and white photograph, shows a raised hand holding in the center the needle of a compass that points nowhere. Furthermore, he will include “Brújula ciega” [Blind Compass] an almost sculptural piece in which he shows a compass without any of the surrounding information, leaving it literally blank.


“Thematically, [with these pieces] I try to examine the current situation of Puerto Rico, which, after the hurricane, and before also, has remained like a totally failed project and a country somewhat adrif,” explains the artist in a recent telephone interview. [. . .]

After this residency / exhibition in Spain, Ibarra will travel to Colombia to exhibit at the International Art Fair of Bogotá (ARTBO). Then he will return to the island [of Puerto Rico] to prepare for the Havana Biennial (Cuba), which will be held in April 2019, and to which he has been invited for the first time. For the Havana Biennial, he will work on a piece with which he will reflect on the political and social processes of the neighboring island framed in a context of uncertainty. [. . .]

[Image above: Two pieces from Ibarra’s “Basamentos,” 2018, “Manos a la obra,” and “Mano brújula.”]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see https://www.elnuevodia.com/entretenimiento/cultura/nota/unartistaboricuapresentarasuprimeraexhibicioneneuropa-2451183/; accessed via https://autogiro.cronicaurbana.com/es/cumulative-failures-karlo-andrei-ibarra/

Also see http://atmgaleria.com/

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