This is one of those exhibits that made me exclaim “holy shit” the minute I walked in: for his piece El Mundo en Llamas (The World in Flames), Fernando Bryce has lined the walls of Alexander and Bonin’s ample space in Chelsea with faithful ink recreations of World War II-era newspaper front pages from England, France, the U.S., Germany and Peru. (All are depicted above the fold.) Screaming headlines related to war cover the walls, from floor to ceiling — a stirring chronicle of long-ago news reports on battle advances, defeats, carnage and victory. In between, Bryce has incorporated his renderings of era film posters that he culled from the pages of El Comercio, Peru’s leading daily. (Bryce was born in Peru; he produced El Mundo en Llamas in 2010-11.)
The result is a chronicle of the war that is intensely personal, providing the rare opportunity to view this much-studied global conflagration through a uniquely Latin American lens. Not only are there some interesting historical finds, such as an ad for a 1940s Disney film geared at and incorporating South Americans (see below), the film posters featured — for flicks such as La Sombra del Terror (The Shadow of Terror) and Los Crimenes del Doctor Satán (The Crimes of Doctor Satan) — seem to echo, in exaggerated, graphic form, everything happening in the news. In addition, Bryce’s illustrations are exquisite, turning scenes of war into works of ethereal beauty (such as the image of the Australian soldier, above, from the New York Times). Taken together, the exhibit provides a riveting take on the nature of war, news, propaganda and graphic art. Consider it a must-see.
The show is up through Saturday, at Alexander and Bonin.
Things I want to see really badly: Disney’s Saludos, a Technicolor film with characters and motifs from Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil. (As an aside: here’s a good bit, with video, on Disney’s World War II propaganda.)
This ad for the Lima and Callao lottery used war imagery to sell tickets. Check out the exploding coins at right. Officially, Peru was neutral during the first years of the war (during which time the country was preoccupied by a border squabble with Ecuador). However, by the time 1942 rolled around and the U.S. joined the war, the country changed its position in support of the Allies.