Top 10 Most Extraordinary Latin American Artists of the 21st Century
During the 20th century, many incredibly talented Latin American artists emerged. Through their work, they shaped the hearts and minds of Latinos throughout the continent and beyond. We’ve enjoyed the art of everyone from great poets like Pablo Neruda to hilarious comedians such as Chespirito.
As the 21st century began and the internet exploded into the phenomenon that it is today, art was made, bought and sold faster than ever before. However, this doesn’t mean art has lost its meaning or value. In the midst of thousands of creative souls, only a select few stand out and manage to reach a large audience with their message.
Multiple vanguard movements in art converged at the end of the 20th century, after which art went in a completely different direction. With the amount of available artists increasing exponentially, internet technology opened the doors for anyone to express themselves through the digital medium. Today, a whole new generation of Latin American artists is expressing their culture through their art.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you know of a great artist who deserves to be on this list, leave a comment with your suggestion! The Latin American artists featured here have impacted many people internationally. Let’s check out the top 10 Latin American artists of the 21st century!
1. Ana Teresa Barboza
First on our list is Ana Teresa Barboza, an installation artist from Lima, Perú. She uses textiles in creative ways to depict the natural wonders of Latin America. Her skillful use of thread converges into collages of different animals or installations that imitate biomes commonly found in Latin America. Barboza also combines drawings and photography in her informative art. Her latest project, Ecosistema del Agua (“Water Ecosystem”), includes an educational component that teaches viewers how water is filtered naturally in the environment and how to purify their water at home.
I’ve mentioned this artist before in our blog post on 4 Must-Read, World-Famous Latin Cartoons and Comic Books in Spanish. Ricardo Siri, who writes under the pen name Liniers, is a comic strip artist whose drawings are simple, relaxing, and a tiny bit melancholic.
His art is often compared to the famous Latin American comic Mafalda for having a smart yet innocent girl with great imagination as their main character. However, Liniers stands out with a cast of characters that range from hairy monsters to elfs, cats, and kids who tell short visual stories that need no explanation to be felt and understood.
3. Daniel Pérez
El Chigüire Bipolar, or the bipolar capybara, is a satirical news outlet owned by Venezuelan journalists Elio Casale, Oswaldo Graziani, and Juan Andrés Ravell. El Chigüire Bipolar’s main focus is to criticize the Venezuelan government through humor and satire.
Daniel Pérez is an editor for this news outlet. His creative writing and video editing skills makes his readers laugh plenty. He describes his creative process as balancing the funniest joke with the most informative scoop. His influence extends beyond Venezuela, since the El Chigüire Bipolar team goes to freedom forums across Latin America to talk about the risks that they take in order to protect free speech through the use of humor. They aren’t able to attend every time since traveling outside of Venezuela can be difficult at times. Instead, Daniel sends funny and impactful videos that challenge censorship and promote free speech.
4. Veronica Di Toro
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1974, Veronica Di Toro has a signature style. Her colorful squares and angles resemble a vibrant version of a QR code. Starting with her first set of paintings in 2002, Veronica’s style relies on interesting angles, colors, and the relationships between them. A certain famous Dutch artist influences her art. Can you tell who he is? Let us know in a comment!
5. Helmut Ditsch
Most Latin Americans are notorious for their warmth and fiery personalities. However, Helmut Ditsch—an artist born in Buenos Aires—subverts this stereotype by painting realistic pictures of freezing landscapes. Helmut’s art brings extreme and unforgiving climates to the comfort of your home with his admirable skill. Coming from an Austrian background and influenced by philosophers such as Nietzche and Heidegger, Helmut believes that his art can create an authentic experience for the viewer. Just looking at his paintings makes me want to go and grab a coat!
This Latin American artist was a part of many kids’ childhoods in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a sketch artist, he popularized phrases such as fue horrible (that was horrible) and portrayed crazy characters such as El Lonje Moco, a crazy hermit who would tell “scary” stories that were actually hilarious.
Later in his career, Derbez did voice acting for popular Disney characters in Spanish, including Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in Shrek. After that, he diversified his portfolio by starring in more serious movies like Miracles from Heaven.
7. Daddy Yankee
When I was a teenager, I hated Daddy Yankee’s music. To me, it was genuinely terrible. However, as time went by, I started to take myself less seriously and realized that his music, although terrible, can be enjoyable! Jokes aside, this artist has managed to stay relevant for a long time.
Daddy Yankee started his career in 1991 and rose to worldwide fame in 2004 with a song called La Gasolina. If that wasn’t enough, he released a song a few years ago that took the world by storm, and I’m 100% sure you recognize it: Despacito.
8. Eduardo Halfon Tenenbaum
Chosen in 2007 as one of the youngest and most influential Latin American authors of our time, Eduardo Halfon is an author who writes about finding his identity in a turbulent world. His inspiration comes from a lifetime of moving from one country to another and from one house to the next.
Tenenbaum lived in the United States for many years before going back to his home country, where he studied philosophy in an attempt to reconcile the conflict born from constantly being on the move. That’s when he fell in love with literature and became a writer. In his words: “My childhood was in Spanish and my books always talk about childhood. The narrative goes back to my origins and an approach against religious and cultural intolerance.”
9. Franco Escamilla
The world without laughter is a dark place indeed. That’s why, every once in a while it’s nice to put on a stand-up special and forget about your problems while someone else tells you about theirs in a funny way. That’s why stand-up comedian Franco Escamilla is awesome!
This hilarious Mexican artist delivers the kind of humor that a lot of people in Latin America enjoy. He is recognized internationally, and this year he became the first Latino comedian to perform in New York’s Carnegie Hall!
Shakira rounds out our list of Latin American artists. This world-famous pop singer started out as a long-haired teenager with an acoustic guitar. Her old songs are quite different from what we hear today, but all Shakira songs are great fun! The Colombian singer also has a big presence in soccer culture, having participated in the soccer world cup theme songs on more than one occasion, and she’s even dating a famous soccer player.
Art is Beautiful!
Art is the ultimate expression of the human experience. It allows us to communicate things in a relatable way, to make silence heard, and to unify people in appreciation of what makes us human. Did you enjoy our list? Don’t forget to leave a comment with other great Latin American artists who should be included!
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