Joan Belmar



Joan Belmar’s “Cambalache District #1,” acrylic, oil, ink on paper, on view at Addison/Ripley Fine Art. (Joan Belmar)

Joan Belmar

Inspired by politics and cartography, Joan Belmar has often devised pieces in which images are partly hidden by ribbons or rounds of Mylar. There are just a few such constructions in “Cambalache,” the Chile-bred local artist’s show at Addison/Ripley Fine Art. Most of the works are mixed-media paintings that layer circles, grids, seemingly rocky expanses and place names. The dominant tones of these moon- or planet-scapes are black and gray, sometimes set off by one brighter hue, usually red or blue.

“Cambalache” (“barter”) is the title of a 1930s tango composed for a film that condemned political corruption in Argentina. The political import of Belmar’s recent work is not blatant, but he’s clearly pondering the climate in his adopted hometown. The names that punctuate these maplike pictures are not those of distant worlds: They identify cities and towns in the region that runs from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

Affixed directly to the walls, the many small globes of “Cambalache: Twenty States” orbit a larger semicircle. This is the most flamboyant piece in a show notable for its subtlety. Using little color and only occasionally venturing into 3-D, Belmar relies on a strong graphic sense to craft some of the strongest work he’s shown in Washington.

Joan Belmar: Cambalache On view through May 27 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-338-5180.

Joan Belmar

 Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Washington, United States

20 APRIL 2017
Joan Belmar. Courtesy of Addison/Ripley Fine Art
Joan Belmar. Courtesy of Addison/Ripley Fine Art

The Expansive Worlds Of Joan Belmar: Cartographer, political commentator, musicologist, passionate observer, Joan Belmar exemplifies these skills in addition to his quite proven mastery of his art. That cosmology comes together in his third exhibition at Addison/Ripley in bold two and three dimensional compositions which, by choice, strongly align with current events. Organized around the evocative exhibition title, Cambalache, the artist references both some of the musical culture of his birth and, in a recurring design motif, the, not so civic, U.S. political scene today in these new works. Cambalache is the name of a tango written in 1935 by Argentinian Enrique Santos Discepolo for the film, The Soul of the Accordian, which was overtly critical of Argentinian 20th Century corruption and initially banned by several dictatorial regimes .

The familiar but deceptive simplicity of the circle and line structure of Belmar’s paintings and constructions allows a rich range of palettes, at times earthy and quietly ashen, and, at others, rainbow bright. The complexity of his compositions allows the viewer to become lost in even the smallest work.Utilizing vinyl, acetate, wood and mylar in addition to traditional vehicles of paper and canvas, the artist constructs layers and layers real and illusory depth, demarcations of line and material. The sharp tap of a flamenco heel mingles here with the mellow, smoke tinged voice of a 1930s Southern Cone cantor in Tango y Vino bars.

A practicing artist in Washington since 1999, Joan Belmar synthesizes his perceptions of the division, corruption and low values that sometimes challenges our civil society into brilliant, joy filled paeans to hope. As the artist states: “I play with light, transparencies and the sculptural qualities of these elements in order to evoke the concepts that are important in my work: Time, change and movement.”

Originally from Santiago, Chile, Belmar was the recipient of The Maryland Arts Council Individual Artist Award in both 2010 and 2013. He was a finalist for the D.C. Mayor’s Art Award as Outstanding Artist in 2007 and went on to receive D.C. fellowships in 2009 and 2010. In 2016, the artist received the First Award for Original Artwork at the Osten Biennial of Drawing in Skopje, Macedonia.


Joan BELMAR First Award for Original ARTWORK USA 2016



CARBON 12 Art Project Residency, Jaipur/Delhi, India, 2016

First Award for Original Artwork, Biennial of Drawing, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, 2016

Maryland State Art Council Award, Painting, 2013

Individual Artist Grant, Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC)


Spaces de lumiere. Artist’s residence. Vilnius/Palanga/Paris. Kazimieras Zoromskis art foundation. Vilnius, Lithuania


Maryland State Art Council Award, Painting, 2010

Artist Fellowship, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC, 2009

Finalist, Mayor’s Art Award, Outstanding Emerging Artist, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC, 2007

Olympic Games Athens 2004, “Artiade,” Athens, Greece, 2004

First Prize, Collage, National Artists Association, ACEA, Barcelona, Spain, 2000


- Wall Street International

_The Washington Post. . Joan Belmar Cambalache. By Mark Jenkins May 18,2017

- The Washington Post. (Mention). Museums. In the galleries. The looking glass By Mark Jenkins July,30,2017

- The Washington Post. Getting ‘Personal’ at King Street. By Mark Jenkins. Nov 13,2015

- City Paper. “The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington” Katzen, (Mention) Reviewed By John Andersen 

- The Studio Visit Moments and Observations in Joan Belmar’s Studio.  Yayo Tavolara September 28, 2015

DC Metro Arts. By Maggie Gurlay  April 2015

The Washington Post. With wires and beads, exhibits dangle intrigue in front of visitor’s eyes

  By Mark Jenkins. February 20, 2015

- Sun Gazzete. Subtle spheres, shapes take center stage at McLean Project for Arts. By Brian Trompeter

-The Washington Post. CHORDS Liberto. By Mark Jenkins. Oct 3, 2014                                                                                                       

-Artsy Editorial. Harmony and Dissonance Imagined in the Abstractions of Joan Belmar. 

  June 7, 2014. By Emily Nathan Artsy editorial. New York, NY

-Modern/Luxury Magazine. Fairs to remember By Max Fishko                                                                                                    

-American Art Collector."Art Fair Preview: Contemporary Showcase. July , 2014                                                                                

-Blouin Artinfo. 3 Hamptons Fairs Bring Art to the Beach. By Ashton Cooper. July 07, 2014                                                              

-Color Redivivus: Abstract Music From Washington by Donald Kuspit. March 03, 2014                                                         

-Open Studio Magazine. Curated by Barbara O'Brien  of  Kemper Museum. Dec, 2014                                                                

-The Washington Post. Bethesda Painting Awards By Mark Jenkins. Jun 14, 2013                                                                                

-The Washington Post.‘Sigil’ art exhibition at Addison Ripley By Michael O’Sullivan. Jun 6, 2013                                          

-The Washington Post. Joan Belmar arrives to America. By Mark Jenkins. Nov 1, 2012                                                                      

-L'Artiste magazine. Take me to the River. France. Jan, 2012                                                                                                     

-The Examiner. Artist profile: Joan Belmar by Stephen Mack. August 1, 2011                                                                                    

-The Washington Post. Restore: Japan. By Stephanie Merry. March 30, 2011                                                                                

-American Contemporary Magazine. New Art to the Nation's Capital. By Lenny Campello. April/May, 2010                                      

-Washington Hispanic. Family Place Exhibe Sin Fronteras- Art without Frontiers. Nov 14, 2008                                                      

-Washington Post. Migration: Universal Truths. By Michael O’Sullivan. Jan 4, 2008                                                                         

-The News Leader. Inspired by Duchamp artist aims to disorient. By Maria Longley. July 10, 2008                                                    

-The Examiner. Seeing way beyond, deep, within.. or a reflection? By Robin Tierney.May 26, 2007                                                 

-Carroll County times.Nuances of Life. By  Pam Zappardino.June 04, 2007

-Washington Post/Express. Game of Illusions. By Robin Tierney. May 26, 2008                                                                                                      

-Fall Church news Northern Virginia. Art Beat. By Kevin Mellema. Dec 11, 2008                                                                            

-Washington Blade. Chile’s artistic ambassador.By Joe Howley. Sept 12,  2004                                                                                 

-El Tiempo Latino. Arte lo lleva a las olimpiadas de Atenas. By Milagros M. Vela. August 6, 2004                                                       

-El Mercurio. Joan Belmar en olimpiadas. By Perdro Gandolfo. August 1, 2004                                                                                

-La Tercera. Dos Chilenos. By Rodrigo Miranda. Nov 08, 2004                                                                                                       

-La Ultima hora Ibiza. Joan Belmar: Mi carrera comenzo en Ibiza. By TCR                                                             

-El Tiempo Latino. Artista chileno expone en DC. By Milagros M. Vela. August 07, 2004

-El Tiempo Latino. Talento hispano en Londres. By Milagros M. Vela. Nov 14, 2003                                                                        

-Washington Blade. The Atmosphere of Glass. By Greg Varner. Jan 12, 2001                                                                                   

-Diario de Ibiza. Joan Belmar. Del diseňo al arte en libertad. By Julio Herranz.

-Diario de Ibiza. Azul. By Jose Manuel Piňa.

-Ultima Hora Ibiza.  Elementos figuarivos tras la abstraccion. VicenÁ Fenollosa.

-El Mundo. El Arte Moderno Aterriza En La Ciudad Eternal. Arteroma 97. By R. Montoya. Nov 29, 1997