Los abrazos del viento, 2023


acrylic and assemblage (mangrove leaves, ceramic, and steel sculptures)
burlap mounted on panel.
230 x 165 cm

Daniel Otero Torres’s Los abrazos del viento (The Wind’s Hugs) offers a moving exploration of humanity’s complex relationship with the natural world, particularly focusing on the fragile ecosystems of mangrove forests. Drawing inspiration from the mangroves in La Boquilla, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, Otero Torres’s work celebrates the resilient intelligence of nature, while serving as a sobering reminder of the impact of human development on the natural world. Mangroves thrive in the tidal zones of tropical coastlines, nurturing diverse communities of specialized organisms and acting as a vital barrier against rising sea levels. Their rhizomatic root structures, which emerge from the water, enable their survival in harsh conditions and contribute to oxygen production.
Using painting and sculptural assemblage on burlap, Otero Torres skillfully captures the intricate mesh of mangrove branches, sprouting leaves, and knotted root, depicting them as if engaged in a mutual embrace. Embedded within the artwork are small sculptures of parrots and crabs made of clay and steel, which represent the life-worlds thriving within the mangrove forests. Parrots are considered indicator species, guardians whose presence and behavior provide insights into the health of ecosystems. Crabs are classified as ecosystem engineers for their role in shaping and modifying habitats, redistributing soil, sediment, and organic matter. These creatures not only enhance the depth and texture of the artwork but also underscore the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of mutualism in ecological communities.
Despite the idyllic beauty depicted in Los abrazos del viento, there is a compelling sense of urgency and concern in the work. The presence of a viaduct in the background, representing human development, serves as a reminder of the threats facing mangrove forests worldwide. It is estimated that approximately 35 percent of the world’s mangroves have been lost over the past few decades due to deforestation, coastal development, pollution, and climate change. Through Los abrazos del viento, Otero Torres seeks to convey the far-reaching consequences of ecosystem disruption, emphasizing the indispensable role of mangroves in maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance.