Onel Naar’s Evocative Works Sustain Morir Soñando at Knockdown Center

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Traversing the trenchant territory between identity, hybridity and ambuity, Morir Soñando marks a cutting-edge look at mixed media in the post-colonial era. Opening Friday, June 22nd from 6-9 pm, the group exhibit features artists Penn Eastburn, Valery Jung EstabrookHein KohJoiri Minaya, Kristianne Molina, Onel Naar, Esther RuizCristina Tufiño, and Woolpunk and is curated by Alex Santana. Referencing the popular yet tricky to create Dominican beverage of the same name, made by meticulously combining milk with orange juice, the exhibit untangles the delicate intricacies binding together artists of mixed heritage working in mixed media. With international roots spanning the Global South and beyond, these artists reclaim the interstitial space between power and vulnerability, belonging and exclusion.

A sneak peek at works on view, such as Onel Naar’s Colgão Diptych (2017) prove the exhibit to allow materials room to breathe and to assume new identities. Deceptively simple organic matter becomes the frame and the image: separated by space yet linked by form. This gentle conceptual investigation of our expectations of fine art with particular attention to the diptych: questioning what constitutes the art object and the auxiliary objects supporting its display. In the artist’s own words, he investigates the concept of diptych in contemporary art to interrogate “the physical and conceptual dualities present.” This duality permeates the crux of the exhibition concept, which probes the notion of seeking strength and liberation through vulnerability.

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On view from June 22-August 19th at the Knockdown Center, Morir Soñando provides space for a wider consideration of the existing cultural framework that contemporary art undermines, supports and even propagates. Where there is space for new materials to infiltrate and expand concepts of contemporary art, there is an expansion of our definition of from where – and for whom – art is created.

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