If the art of Latin America has one overriding characteristic it is an imaginative scope that comes across in the aptly named group show \u201cMasters of the Imagination: The Latin American Fine Art Exhibition,\u201d at Agora Gallery, 530 West 25th Street, from September 8 through 29. (Reception: Thursday, September 10, from 6 to 8 PM.)\r\nIn the paintings of Mexico\u2019s Francisco Agraz, it manifests in an eerie procession of mysterious robed figures that look as though they could date back to the Inquisition or a vibrant nocturnal sky. All of Agraz\u2019s pictures have a drama and painterly energy suggesting a contemporary take on El Greco.\r\nChilean artist Ana Maria Garc\u00e9s R., who lives and works in Chile, embeds faint figurative imagery, like ghosts of memory, within luminous color field compositions. Her work is at once poetically evocative and filled with abstract nuances. Mexico\u2019s Israel Vazquez is another artist who melds the figurative and the abstract, albeit in the more gestural manner. Indeed, in some of his paintings, such as \u201cChaos II,\u201d the composition gives way to the splashy dance of pure \u201caction painting.\u201d Then there is Brazilian Christine Drummond, who employs an \u201coverall\u201d technique more often seen in abstraction to create market scenes swarming with tiny figures. The overall effect is lively and joyous by virtue of Drummond\u2019s penchant for vibrant color.\r\nPedro Leon, a painter from Ecuador, is another consummate colorist, albeit in a more restrained manner, as seen in his \u201cFree Bull,\u201d in which the formidable bovine confronts the viewer in a field of stylized floral forms. Leon\u2019s work is possessed of a formal strength that derives from the fact that he is also a superb draftsman.\r\nDrawing also plays an important role in the paintings of Sonia Ferrari, a superb draftsperson from Argentina, who appears to merge the kinetic complexity of Duchamp\u2019s \u201cNude Descending a Staircase\u201d with the fleshy hot pinks of de Kooning\u2019s \u201cWoman\u201d in her nude \u201cMujer de Rogo.\u201d Sculptural and theatrical elements enter into the work of Maria Laura Pini, also from Argentina, who employs an innovative technique of precisely cut paper to create intricate multi-figure tableaux, in which cast shadows enhance the visual drama. Much in the eclectic spirit of postmodernism, Mexico City\u2019s Marcela Albitos apparently feels free to move between radiant tactile abstractions with a sense of light reminiscent of Turner to strict geometric compositions. Indeed, the sensory unity of Albitos work transcends stylistic limitations.\r\nStrongly conceptual, employing photography along with painting, the mixed media works of Brazil\u2019s Rosane Demeterco Bussmann resonate with human emotion. In one of her most affecting images the hand of an adult and that of a child are abruptly separated by a sudden divide. Darkly monochromatic and mysterious, yet built on a strong formal armature, the paintings of Chilean Giancarlo Bertini translate the artist\u2019s abiding love for Renaissance painting into abstract terms. Bertini\u2019s compositions exude a subdued intensity. By contrast the canvases of Isabel Santta Cecilia, influenced by the popular art of her native Brazil, project an almost antic energy with their plethora of brightly colored forms. Some of Cecilia\u2019s shapes are floral and others resemble the gears of a clock, and they all interact in compositions with a dazzling energy akin to the psychedelic art of the 1960s. A similar energy, albeit inspired by street graffiti and employing some of its fluorescent aerosol spray paints along with acrylics and oils enlivens the paintings of Colombian artist Giovanny Sanchez Tot. Cartoon characters, scrawled letters, numbers and sweeping abstract forms interact to explosive effect in Tot\u2019s compositions.\r\nThe two dimensional picture plane provides the arena for Brazilian painter Mayumi Luppi\u2019s exquisitely austere explorations of mostly abstract rectangular shapes in muted earth colors. However, Luppi employs recognizable subject matter to equally formal effect in one composition depicting a grid of wine bottles. Then there is Javier Pe\u00f1a, whose palette of rich browns, ochers, and blues evoke the earth and sky of his native Mexico, but whose heart belongs to Abstract Expressionism. A painter\u2019s painter, Pe\u00f1a\u2019s painting come vibrantly alive by virtue of his vigorous splashy brushwork.\r\nLike all of the artists in this exhibition, Pe\u00f1a exemplifies the creative spirit of Latin America.\r\n\u2013\u2013 Maurice Taplinger\r\nImage Credits: Pareja, Mixed Media on Canvas, 23.5" x 31.5"