complement|contrast: Saatchi Online Spotlight on Latin American Artists

March 19, 2013 | Alex

Saatchi Online's  weekly newsletter is a great way to discover up-and-coming artists, whose original work is still "affordable" (by art world standards, that is.) I'm particularly jazzed about this week's edition because the focus is on Latin American artists. Anyone who knows my family knows we have a real soft spot for Latin American art and textiles-- and a house chock full of Brazilian and Andean flea market finds.

For today's installment of complement|contrast, I selected Frida  (24 x 18" Acrylic on Canvas) by Argentine artist Royal Priest and No Title  (23.6 x 31.5" Acrylic on Canvas) by Brazilian artist Tania Nitrini. In addition to the typical rules of the game for complement|contrast, I made an effort to incorporate pieces from Design Within Reach, in honor of the final day of their Semi-Annual Sale. Final hours, people-- 15% off nearly all of their collections!

complementary palette | contrasting style

I was attracted to Royal Priest's Frida Kahlo "remix" for its bold palette and a distinct sense of place. But I especially love that he plays with time by contrasting the iconography of Kahlo's original works with a contemporary subject. I was inspired to continue Royal Priest's distortion of time, and further distort by playing with the sense of place.


complement | The palette is queued off of the painting's rich spectrum of reds and greens, with hints of brown and black providing a neutral stabilizer.

contrast | The art work evokes a lush, humid and wild backdrop, where the angular furnishings lend a feeling of the cool rigidity born of industrial construction. The reference to Frida Kahlo's iconic paintings plant you firmly in the Latin America pantheon, where the decor is heavily influenced by Scandinavian design and the German Bauhaus-- while the nationalities of the designers behind the furnishings span three continents. The jungle is timeless, where the decor is distinctly 1950s/1960s retro. The artist, too, plays with a sense of time in his modern spin on Kahlo's work. The contrast is inherent in the paintings and further accentuated through the use of iconic mid-century pieces.

Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Frida, 4 x 18" Acrylic on Canvas, by Royal Priest via Saatchi Online - $1,500
  2. Lean On Me Table Lamp, Bo Concept - $399
  3. Earl Credenza, Thrive Furniture - $3,199
  4. Stobel Textile, via Dessau Bauhaus (for Bauhaus inspired rugs that are available for purchase, see Oyyo's collection.)
  5. Eames 2 Seat Sofa, Design Within Reach - $8,719-$9,318
  6. Girard Table, Design Within Reach - $925
  7. Paulistano Outdoor Armchair, Design Within Reach - $1,062-$1,250  (*semi-annual sale price)

complementary style | contrasting palette

I'm a sucker for concentric squares. So when I saw Nitrini's Joseph Albers-inspired piece, I knew I wanted to run with the concept of grid logic. To me, this grouping epitomizes Brooklyn style-- an abundance of graphic patterns, nods to the design pantheon and an eccentricity that walks the line of discord-- the sort of edge you can only really achieve when you're just one concentric-squared throw pillow away from triggering epilepsy in your house guests. It's a tricky tight rope to walk, for sure, but my fellow Brooklynites seem up to the task. I picture this arrangement in a old brownstone with weathered, farmhouse flooring. 


complement | The furnishings, lighting and textiles echo the concentric squares found in Nitrini's piece, although they play with the dimensions and regularity of the squares. To provide relief, the ottoman abstracts the central concept one level to form a diamond pattern out of overlapping squares.

contrast | Where the painting's palette is cold, reclaimed wood and velvet upholstery offer warmth and rich texture. A spring and mint green set off the burst of orange in Nitrini's piece, while brass legs contrast with the palette's steely grays. A single strain of orange detected in the throw's weave and the copper hardware of the lighting fixture keeps the arrangement from veering into haphazard.

Sources  (clockwise from top left)

  1. Nos Das Throw by Donna Wilson, Design Within Reach - $102-$267.75  (*semi-annual sale price)
  2. Framework Credenza, CB2 - $599
  3. Bluff City Pendant - Large, Design Within Reach - $637.50 (*semi-annual sale price)
  4. No Title, 23.6 x 31.5" Acrylic on Canvas, by Tania Nitrini via Saatchi Online - $1,000
  5. Kite Kilim Floor Pouf - Iron/Straw, West Elm - $249
  6. Major Chair Satin Brass Finish - Emerald Velvet, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams - $1,245