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Renzo Ortega's art brings influences from Peru to Chapel Hill

Renzo Ortega
South-America, a work by Renzo Ortega, will be on display at the John and June Allcott Gallery. Courtesy of Renzo Ortega.

A gallery featuring artwork by Renzo Ortega will be on display at the John and June Allcott Gallery from Jan. 17 to Feb. 18, with an opening reception and artist talk on Jan. 25. 

The gallery will have free admission and will exhibit a selection of Ortega’s paintings from 2014 to the present. 

Ortega’s career as an artist began in Lima, Peru before he immigrated to the United States in 2000, where he continued to study art in New York. After a successful 17 years painting in New York, he moved to Carrboro with his family. 

“In New York, I did a lot of work with art organizations and immigrant organizations,” Ortega said. “To me, the move to Carrboro was kind of like a cultural shock because New York is very diverse.” 

Ortega said that the Allcott exhibit will feature a variety of his pieces that will showcase many of the messages his art includes.

“You’re going to see some sort of cultural issues and some social issues,” Ortega said. “I work about displacement, I work about cultural identity and I have some works about colonialism. In terms of what kind of paintings I’m showing, I think my work compiles my cultural background with a contemporary, present experience I have.”

Music, folklore and popular art, Ortega said, are the biggest influences for his works. He said he hopes that viewers of the gallery can use this knowledge to help create a conversation between the viewer and the piece. 

“I use abstract shapes in my painting with the goal to have windows and doors open for people to have their own interpretation,” Ortega said. “I want to create a dynamic between the view of the work and the make of those abstract spaces that are an invitation for you to have your own interpretation. I think that’s the beautiful part of art.”

A painting student at UNC, Chieko Murasugi, has been following the artistic career of Ortega for the past few years. She said her favorite part of his works are how they reflect where he is from, as well as his thoughts and concerns about the present. 

“I can see the passion and also the skill in his work,” Murasugi said. “I respect Renzo highly as a person and as a painter, so I’m very excited to see his work in the Allcott."

Lien Truong, an assistant professor of art at UNC, said she was first acquainted with Ortega’s work when he saw a two-person show he was a part of. 

“I am really looking forward to sharing his meaningful work with our UNC students and the greater community through his Allcott exhibition,” she said.

Ortega said he is anxious to share his work with the Carolina community. 

“It is very important to me to in some way connect with the students," Ortega said. "Very important.”


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