We Are You, 2005, Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 24" (Private Collection).
Iconologically, Duda Penteado's We Are You painting is a Postmodern tour de force that simultaneously incorporates three contemporary revisionist-styles: Neo-Pop, Neo-Expressionism, and Neo-Surrealism, additionally the work is reminiscent of revolutionary modern masters Pablo Picasso and Pierre Alechinsky, who pioneered Surreal-Expressionism and Lyrical Abstraction. These stylistic references are most evident within abstract figural-elements (i.e., four uplifted colorful hands, eleven glimmering stars, a golden spermatozoid comet, a mother and a child swaddled in a cerulean blanket). These anomalous characters act upon-or-around a rotating, undulating, and escalating spiral staircase comprised of red and white stripes, resembling surreal piano-keys. Inscribed on each stripe is the name of a Latin American nation. The four up-reaching hands intimate various races inhabiting America, as well as signifying a new 21st Century American world, fusing North America, Central America, Caribbean-America and South America.
In We Are You, the colors on the hands represent new colors beyond mimetic skin complexions or even the predictable red-white-blue. Since the Ibero-word mano means hand, the hands' aspirational and inspirational aspects are praxis ("thought-actions") or manifestations (manifestoes) challenging ultra-capitalism, imperialism, militarism and tyranny -- poignant problems that have historically plagued The Americas. Even today, these old problems linger, e.g., slavery has been reconfigured by means of migrant-laborers' and illegal-laborers' nominal-wages without any benefits into a new horrific form of colonization (imperialism), which is tragically occurring within the USA, representing a dilemma that a proposed iron-curtain along the Rio Grande will not remedy nor will Arizona's new unjust immigration "policies."
Also at play within We Are You are artistic-allusions to Frédéric Bartholdi's "Statue of Liberty" entitled Liberty Lighting the World. This 1886 gift from France to the US affirms that America is a land of immigrants and refugees. Penteado's penetrating We Are You image stands as the new "Statue of Liberty" for a new millennium. In fact, there are many significant similarities between Bartholdi's Beaux Art statue/lighthouse and Penteado's Postmodern image; these parallels are especially apparent when flying in a helicopter over Liberty Island, Jersey City (NJ), then Penteado's unique foreshortening is instantly palpable.
We Are You is a means to an end created by an artistic-prophet, who is unleashing a clarion call for America to embrace other cultures, by rejecting discrimination, intolerance, and segregation. We Are You asks viewers to break boundaries that unfairly separate people, by refusing to accept simple answers; instead, the image poses complex and correct questions.
To know more about the We ARE YOU painting or for more information about the artist