ARTIST STATEMENT: PAINTING
Nature as metaphor for the complexity of the human condition is the essence of my three recent painting series: The Cloisters, The Topography of Love, and Secrets of Flora and Fauna. All three celebrate life. This artwork, covered with multiple coats of paint, mythological creatures, or diverse images of plants and animals, creates a world of color, altered gravity and unexpected relationships.
In the first painting series, superimposed images of Romanesque sculptures from The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and views of the Hudson River come together in present day New York City. Here one finds the ghostly feeling of the present and the past, the old and the new, Europe and America, location and dislocation. The old is brought alive by the new, and vice versa.
The Topography of Love forms an organic part of my quest to transform the traditional rectangular picture. Each painting consists of six pieces of paper, which are painted as one, then separated and folded. This destroys the original rectangularity, creating a three-dimensional form. This process gives the paintings motion as if looking at the waves of the ocean or the topography of a mountainous region.
The series Secrets of Flora and Fauna is a celebration of life and human love. Physical love, present in the drawings but hidden in some works, is depicted in warm tonalities that contrast with the freshness of the greens and blues, tones of turquoise, emerald and lapis lazuli... The work creates a world without gravity in an explosion of color and pleasure. I am continuously trying to fuse the perceptible and the intangible in order to spark inventive reverie.
My artwork from the last two decades tries to create a consciousness of nature’s fragility and temporality, reaching far beyond a sensuous use of form and color. Nature is not only something material, but it is also a subject of philosophical conception. My use of nature as a metaphor, hints at the complexities of contemporary existence, as well as the spirit of life during an era of rapid change. I would like people to see and feel the exuberance of nature, but also to see that it is ephemeral.
My video artwork, like the rest of my production of the last two decades, deals with nature, and altering perceptions of objects. The view of a cave or the flow of water can be transformed, with the use of sound and close-up shots, into something alien or mysterious. In the process the viewer is transported to a different world where the laws of nature no longer seem to apply. The Hudson River is present in many of these works.
The four short pieces titled “Reflections: Hudson River, Manhattan # 1-4” can be presented in two different ways. The first way is the straightforward simultaneous large projections of the four videos onto the white walls of a gallery. The second way is as an elaborate installation that takes the Spanish title: “Tesoros ajenos.”
In “Tesoros ajenos,” each video will be viewed from a screen hidden at the bottom of a large urn. The four papier-mâché urns have an antique quality or an ancient look that transcends a particular time and culture. The gallery room is transformed into a mysterious environment through dim illumination. The urns, placed at slightly different angles or positions on a floor full of sand, remind the viewers of a hidden treasure or an archaeological find of an unknown culture or people. The viewer will not be able to see what is inside the urns until he/she comes in close contact. At that point, the urns reveal their treasure-like luminosity. This installation is a metaphor for the way every culture, throughout the ages, has borrowed or taken “treasures” (terosos) from another culture. No culture or civilization has developed in complete isolation.
In “Reflections of the Alhambra, Granada, Spain,” the ornate Moorish palaces are presented through reflections in the water, like mirror images, that dance before your eyes. The photography, all in tight close-ups, is straightforward. At times the shots are playful and exaggerated almost as if they have been created by special effects. There is an implied questioning about what is reality.
My artwork has always been about change, about the need to re-invent myself in the studio, taking the work I have done and expanding it in new directions. I work in a variety of media: painting, photography, video, installation art and sound. I am always searching for new ways and new media to express myself.
“Cosmic Encounters,” my new mixed media series, arranged in groups of twos, threes and fours, is the product of my painting-in-progress and an experimental photographic process. Neither straightforward photography nor painting, each panel in the diptychs, triptychs and “cuádruples” moves within a curvilinear space abstracting the overall composition in a progression from left to right. Each group releases an intense energy of colors and sensual lines; a centripetal force that pulls the human body into a cosmic swirl becoming one with the celestial spheres.
“Cosmic Encounters,” presents a fresh look at the theme of love that has been one of my interests during the last decade. This 2010 series can be printed in variable sizes. But, I would like each individual piece in a group to be 48“ x 60.” This large format will approximate the human scale.
Over the past five years I have been working on two distinctly different photomontage series. The photography CD that accompanies this statement is comprised of a small selection of both series: “By the Shore of the Hudson River: Manhattan” and “Between Light and Shadow.”
“By the Shore of the Hudson River: Manhattan” explores the Manhattan shoreline of the Hudson River between 96th and 125th Streets. I select small and distorted elements of driftwood art that spontaneously appear, disappear and blend with the water and the New Jersey skyline leaving a monumental presence of figures resembling flora and fauna. I have captured the ephemeral aspect of the sculptures from varying angles during different times of the day and seasons of the year. This is an ongoing series that will have approximately 30-40 large-scale works.
The second series, “Between Light and Shadow,” is inspired by my experience of working in Mexico for twenty months during 2005-2007 as a Fulbright Research Scholar. This period coincided with several difficult and historic events in Mexico, including the controversial presidential election and the popular uprising in the southern state of Oaxaca. The basic thematic concerns are the natural world and social/cultural traditions as they are expressed within the context of political ferment. We see the desire for social well-being and progress through political protest as well as in public expressions of graphic art, performances and Day of the Dead Celebrations.
I completed extensive video and photography of some of those events. Presently, I am editing the video that, when finished, will include several short pieces. The edited videos will be exhibited as individual large wall projections or side by side with the photographic images. The complexity of the human condition is the essence of this artwork.
I have created two ways to view this photography. The first is the traditional picture with individual shots. The second is a series of over 40 large-scale photomontages that use from 9 to 16 matted photographs, placed, folded and tacked to the walls in such a way as to create an irregular design. The first method brings to viewers the power and intimacy of the single frame allowing them to experience the drama and immediacy of the moment and drawing them into the photograph. The second method, through repetition and placement, creates a grouping in which each separate image collaborates with the others in the photomontage leading to a third dimension of motion and unity. Individual photographs within a single composition range from 4” x 6” to 11“ x 14” matted onto a larger surface. Some 4” x 6” and 8” x 10” prints have been glued to larger matted prints creating additional layering that emphasize the reality captured in varying photographic views.