EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights at House of X Titillates Guests

(Lead image credit: Brendan Burke)

Intriguing installations abound in EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights, on view at the newly christened cultural and performative venue, House of X, in the PUBLIC hotel in lower Manhattan. Curator and exhibiting artist Kat Ryals has assembled innovative and cutting edge artists into this inaugural exhibition with the venue: an exciting show that reveals more secrets at every turn. Artists featured throughout the space include Ryals, Anna Cone, Anthony Padilla, Olivia Taylor, Rob Ebeltoft and Tom Prinsell.

In situ installation artwork near spiral staircase, featuring work by Olivia Taylor and Kat Ryals
(image credit: Brendan Burke)

Encountering artwork from the very entrance into House of X, visitors are treated to a sense of fantasy and spectacle from the very first step inside the venue. Guests are greeted by Anna Cone’s luscious installations – vignettes borrowing from Baroque imagery, presenting decadent, detailed images of allegorical beauty and chaos. Cone’s 3-dimensional works bring a precious quality to contemporary image-making: an approach that informs the artist’s work in addition to her background in fashion photography. The artist plays with expectations, rebelling against art historical norms – and traditional expectations around female beauty. Cone’s stunning tableaux embrace sexuality, power dynamics and overindulgence to emphasize how contemporary culture’s beauty standards shift constantly and elusively.

FTTIN, Anna Cone, on view in EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights

Venturing further into the space, elaborate textures and representational imagery pervade the venue. The interior serves as a kind of art palace, with works spanning the walls across downstairs seating booths, a transitional space along the corner where the spiral staircase reaches to the upstairs level, elongated vitrines and an intimate lounge area. Art seemingly sprouts out of every corner and crevice, particularly when encountering Olivia Taylor and Kat Ryals’ provocative and tactile installations created from combinations of sensual, sensational imagery and materials (see top image, image credit: Brendan Burke.) Faces and hands protude outward from a caged corner approximating a cabinet of wonders, with precise attention paid to figuration and materiality. Upstairs, body parts and saccharine sweets combine in a vitrine of assorted sculptures presenting sensual imagery with the texture of ready-to-eat cakes and treats, referencing the range of pleasures present in the sumptuous surroundings.

Artist Rob Ebeltoft’s compelling installation work remains permanently at the venue, presenting the installation ”Cherry Babe” as a sumptuous vision of a Disco forward, futuristic nightlife. Ebeltoft’s work provides a portal for the curious onlooker to experience an alternative vision of club culture.

‘EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights’ installation view of lounge with works by Anthony Padilla

As guests navigate through the inner realms of the House of X upstairs lounge, they encounter paintings by Anthony Padilla and Tom Prinsell. Padilla’s representational works present introspective, nocturnal imagery approximating the otherworldly and the exotic. Moonlit jungles undulate in organic curves, with plant life seemingly bursting forth from the compositions. Sensual gradients chart the trajectory of light across flower petals, accentuating the curvature present in bodies both floral and fauna in nature. Tom Prinsell’s compositions present fantastical imagery of natural bodies and the built environment. Prinsell’s paintings subvert expectations, elevating the ordinary into the surreal and almost supernatural. These works create mood and atmosphere with effective use of color and line, confronting the viewer and allowing the eye to roam across scenes both vaguely familiar yet unfathomable. The emphasis on surreality and subverting expectations unites the range of mediums and materials present across the group exhibition.

‘EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights’ installation view of lounge with works by Tom Prinsell

EXHIBITIONIST: Earthly Delights enticed viewers who visited over the course of its duration. For the curious, the new iteration of EXHIBITIONIST – Esoterica – features art by Saki Sato, Rachel Stern, and Hannah Antalek. The show remains up over the month of May and the opening reception event for this show will occur on Tuesday May 17th, 7-11pm.

House of X is open Thurs-Sat, 10 PM – 4 AM at PUBLIC hotel, 215 Chrystie Street in Lower Manhattan. For further details, message Kat Ryals – kat@houseofx.nyc .

Rachael Wren Gives Form to the Formless in Still It Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

By Jeanne Brasile

At the onset of the pandemic, artist Rachael Wren spent more time than usual in nature looking at trees – noticing the subtleties of space and her relationship to it.  The constants of the square canvas and gridded plane provide a stable ground for experimentation with other variables such as mark-making, color, line and shape. While ostensibly about trees, these eleven new paintings -completed in the past two years – depict various arrangements of vertical trunks cropped at the top and stripped of branches and leaves.  Yet, the underlying gridlines, left visible amid the overlying composition, hint at something more complex.  Wren’s use of the tree and the grid provide the scaffolding around which she constructs her richly nuanced conversations about atmosphere as subject.  Wren’s paintings convey a sense of proprioception, or kinaesthesia, in wooded spaces she shares with viewers.  This is brought to bear in the gallery, along with the visitor’s relationships to the space and paintings within.  These connections are heightened by Rick Wester’s sensitive installation.    

installation view of Still it Grows at Rick Wester Fine Art

Anchoring the exhibit from opposing ends of the gallery are two 72″ square canvases, “Already There” and “Thicket.”  The large format is a breakthrough for Wren who generally paints in a 48” or 36” square.  Moving up in size enhances the experience of physically entering the fictive space of the painting while concomitantly establishing a relationship to the architecture of the gallery and the other paintings.  “Thicket” with its greenish-gray palette draws us into the receding space of a dense composition filled with hazy, foggy light from a source on the left.  The trees recede into a darker space on the right, giving viewers an opening to enter the wooded scene.  “Already There” is more open spatially with an energetic orange palette that shifts in a gradient to blue-gray moving to the top of the painting.  The brushstrokes are loose, barely held together by the freely rendered verticals of the trees. The tension is palpable, as if the trees are on the verge of dissolution, merging into the space around them. 

“Encounter” Rachael Wren, oil on linen 36″ x 36″ (2021)

Highlights of the show include “Encounter” which seems to glow from within.  The large, cantilevered brushstrokes sit atop one another like haphazardly stacked children’s blocks about to topple.  This work functions like a visual retort to “Already There”  with its loose verticals.  “Spring Rain” shows Wren’s penchant for dispersing space as well as her newly  expanded  visual vocabulary.  Introducing new shapes such as quasi-quatrefoils, overlapping horizontals and verticals, and amorphous ‘blotches,’ the composition becomes more abstract than the others.  Wren deftly uses a softly contrasting palette of green, gray and lavender to moor the looseness of her gestures and unify the work.           

The visual proximity of Wren’s paintings enables one to see the incredible array of atmospheric conditions observed and Wren’s rich lexicon that masterfully depicts the void as subject.  As one moves through Still It Grows,  fleeting moments in nature are captured for quiet contemplation; dappled sunlight through spring leaves, the enveloping mist of a humid morning, fog rolling through the forest or the dawn’s gentle side light cutting through a copse.  Wren is a master of giving form to the formless in these mindfully conceived and unhurriedly executed paintings that must be experienced in person to fully appreciate their complexity and eloquent impressions of atmospheric conditions.     

A Meditation on Vastness: “The sky is higher here” at Transmitter Gallery

by Adam Timur Aslan

“Why is it that all that blue refuses to be contained?”, asks the press release of the group exhibition, The sky is higher here. The show is curated by Leila Seyedzadeh and on display at Transmitter Gallery until March 27th. It features work by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay.

installation view, The sky is higher here (L–R works by Hedwig Brouckaert “Flesh of Light (I)” (2017) Ingrid Tremblay “Looking further” (2016) and Saba Farhoudnia “Between the two sighs” (2019)

A focal point thematically of the show is the limitless depth of a sky that is too complex for full human understanding. The sky is a source of heat and light, but also darkness. It has scientific qualities that are mysterious. It is a ceiling of blue during the day and an infinite expanse of black at night. It gives allusions to heaven during the day, and the potential for granted wishes via falling stars at night. A focus on the sky is a decision to allow for vastness. To make art about the sky is to consider all these things and decide upon a subject matters that is composed of both the sublime and chaotic. 

“One of the first things that got my attention from day one was that the sky is higher here than what I felt back in Tehran. I still don’t know if there is a scientific reason behind it, or just me seeing the sky this way in North America. Later on, I visited Mexico City and Toronto, and I noticed the sky was high and vast. And when I traveled back to Tehran, I looked carefully and saw the sky was not the same, and I tried to understand why it was lower there,” details Seyedzadeh.

Seyedzadeh brings together artists at Transmitter Gallery that utilize a wide range of materials. Though the curatorial theme can be seen in all the works, the expression of that theme is wildly divergent. “Being in New York among a diverse group of artists from all around the world inspired me to listen to stories that speak about the same content, but which come from such different places – from Iran, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and the USA. These artists share their ideas through painting, photography, textile, mixed media, and more,” reflects Seyedzadeh.

“A page from my dream book” Victoria Martinez (2022) Cotton, silk, yarn and hibiscus dye, 20 x 18″

The exhibit includes a range of topics that intersect with the theme of the vast blue sky. “Despite the insurmountable distance between the Earth and the sky and its defiance to be understood, these artists search to make it accessible and deeply familiar,” Seyedzadeh explains. “We know that only something as magnificent, shapeless, and borderless as the sky can hold the sum of all our heart’s grief and hopes without ever pouring over.”

The interweaving of seemingly opposing visual objects to create a peaceful setting is observed in the work of Ingrid Tremblay.  The fragility of the immigrant experience and “the infinite blue above our existences” is shown through the work of Simone Couto. The peace and survival bound in the blues of water and sky are explored by in the painted “Between Two Sighs” by Saba Farhoudnia, which was made shortly after losing her father. Hedwig Brouckaert’s mixed media work “Flesh of Light (I)” evokes the liminality of the sky’s dissolving horizontal borders.

While the strength of concept behind the works shine, the range of materials and quality of completed work using this material is equally compelling. Particularly noteworthy is the “A page from my dream book” (2022) (above) by Victoria Martinez which presents a variety of material, color, and shape that the work employs to create a piece that is in dialogue with natural rhythms: a woman’s body, the moon, and other natural shifts in state. Edi Dai’s sumptuous and subtle study of color in staggered layers of natural cotton in “Thoroughfare Vessel” (2022) (below) also commands the viewer’s contemplation.

“Thoroughfare Vessel” Edi Dai (2022) Handwoven canvas made of various undyed colored cotton, 14 x 12″

The sky is higher here is up until March 27th.Transmitter gallery is located at 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11237, with gallery hours 1-6 pm on weekends and by appointment.

Monumental: Queen Andrea in “Letters Forever” & Cern and Nola Romano’s “Urban Encounters” at AHA Fine Art

Two separate exhibitions hold court at AHA Fine Art with both Queen Andrea in Letters Forever and Cern and Nola Romano in Urban Encounters through March 13, 2022. AHA Fine Art (56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn) hosts these exhibitions, both of which span the range of physical space in a scale reminiscent of urban art found across the streets of New York City.

Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Queen Andrea is a prolific artist whose installations feature prominently throughout the five boroughs. Queen Andrea (aka Andrea von Bujdross) was drawn to the growing field of street art in 1990s New York City in her early teens. She cut her teeth with some of the most daring street artists working in the urban area. Her intuitive grasp of a color theory, stenciling and a strongly cultivated personal aesthetic leave a strong impression on visitors to Letters Forever. A prolific fine artist, muralist and designer, visitors have plenty to digest — from her masterful use of organic line, circular and curved elements and carefully applied gradient.

Artwork, ”Flourish” by Queen Andrea on view in Letters Forever at AHA Fine Art

Works such as “Believe” (2022) and “Flourish” (2022) (above) offer positive messages that are presented in bright neon colors across sweeping backdrops. “Flourish” offers a scale in dialogue with her public murals, with cotton-candy tones spanning the canvas in gradients spanning from navy to cornflower blue to burnt sienna. The artist presents powerful meditations on transformation in these recent paintings, harnessing inspiration across multiple formats, including jewelry, sculpture and painting.

Cern, “Ocean of Devotion” oil on panel, 30 x 20” from the exhibit, Urban Encounters
Install view of works by Nola Romano, Urban Encounters
Install views of Letters Forever and Urban Encounters

Meanwhile, the opposing gallery walls feature a double exhibition of works by Cern and Nola Romano. Entitled Urban Encounters, the show presents figurative works presented in bright colors, with distinctive styles presented that are unique to each artist. As per gallerist Francesca Arcilesi, “Cern is the type of artist whose life and craft are intensely intertwined. The wall, panel or canvas act as an expression of a much deeper, layered mantra and perspective on how to go through life. His art consists of abstract, smooth, blended lines with elements of clearly defined edges and imagery.” This tension between Impressionism and Street art remains present throughout Cern’s artworks on view, creating a harmonious effect that invites the visitor to linger, discovering beautiful, illusory details in these poignant compositions.

Nola Romano’s works balance the personal and the universal, the delicate and the resilient. Her works, primarily acrylic on wood panel, present the complexity of the world: both the idealism of the world to be and the persistent reality of longing, fear and dread. Her portraits of young girls and figures with fantastical attributes create a sense a magical realism, heightened by the visual texture she creates in this painterly vignettes. These paintings communicate transience and endurance in equal measure, presenting the beauty in the world around us through the lens of fantasy.

Make sure not to miss Letters Forever and Urban Encounters in its final weekend on view at AHA Fine Art, 56 Bogart St, from 1-6 pm through March 13.

A New Romantic: Pamela Casper’s “Earthscapes” at Reeves-Reed Arboretum (Summit, NJ)

Artist Pamela Casper’s Earthscapes: Emerging to a Brighter World, on view now at Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ, honors the power that nature has to inspire, to awe, and to overwhelm. Casper is able to capture, ”a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower,” in the words of Romantic poet William Blake. In many ways Casper’s solo show, a mini-retrospective for the artist, brilliantly captures that wondrous sense of natural awe redolent of the Romantic movement, with a nuanced portrayal of natural phenomenon at turns imaginative and insightful. Casper’s works on view span mediums ranging from works on paper to mixed media and sculpture, offering visitors a varied means of engaging with the environment.

Installation view of Earthscapes: Emerging to a Brighter World, a solo show of works by Pamela Casper

Works such as ”Roots and Insects,” ”Gothic Underground,” and ”Underground Glow” allow guests to burrow down into the impression the artist has created of roots expanding deep underground. Rich jewel tones and minuscule, detailed lines trace the most powerful and life-sustaining part of a tree: its root system. Casper’s paintings evoke what they don’t show, giving the impression of destiny with lush, painterly brushstrokes hinting at the rich ecosystem lying just out of view of the human eye.

Roots and Insects (2016) Pamela Casper, watercolor on paper, 24×36”

In addition to the artist’s Tornado series (see cover photo) which brings to life the transformative power of nature and calls into question our tenuous relationship as stewards of the environment, the artist also works with reclaimed materials. ”Abandoned Nest” re-imagines barbed wire as a bird’s nest, painting a bleak future for a world in which scant natural materials are available for creatures to depend on. The sharp angles jutting across one another are juxtaposed with a bird’s feather: a reminder of what’s left for us to lose unless we begin reimagining ways to provide for a sustainable environmental future.

Abandoned Nest (2013) Pamela Casper, barbed wire and feather, 18×9”

Pamela Casper’s ”Earthscapes: Emerging to a Brighter World” is on view at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum’s Wisner House in Summit, NJ, until October 31st, 2021. Check the Arboretum’s website for hours and special events before attending: https://www.reeves-reedarboretum.org/visit/ .

“Wall Sandwich” at Amos Eno Gallery a Delectable Treat

“You cut a hole in the building and people can look inside and see the way other people really lived… it’s making space without building it.” – Gordon Matta-Clark

Industrial materials and a delightful array of dimensions provide new angles on urbanity in “Chris Esposito: Wall Sandwich,” on view now at Amos Eno Gallery at 56 Bogart St through Sunday, July 18th.

Installation image, “Chris Esposito: Wall Sandwich” at Amos Eno Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

Esposito is a Queens-based artist. A born and bred New Yorker, the artist’s familiarity with the city permeates every aspect of the exhibition. Construction is one constant traversing the city’s streets, and familiar sights such as dangling shoes and lath wood, metal and cement confront urban residents at every twist and turn of the city’s winding streets. Eroding painted signage from days gone by are visible on the sides of buildings from overpasses and aboveground subway lines throughout the city, revealing varying degrees of erasure as they play out across the skyline. Fences separating properties across the city’s five boroughs range from elaborate, pointed arches to brushed chrome. All of these experiences and more infuse “Chris Esposito: Wall Sandwich” with a potent representation of how residents and visitors interact with spaces surrounding them in urban landscapes.

Works on view present a study in contrasts, with the artist embracing industrial materials and artistic processes in equal measure, forming a strange yet powerful combination. Works included in this exhibition, such as “Split/Connect” (below image, work on right,) incorporate oil, tar and steel rods, while artistic techniques like painting, collage and assemblage are utilized throughout. Lath wood and bricks form the structure supporting the artist’s large-scale work, “Wall Sandwich,”: the exhibit’s namesake. Notions of the simulacrum pervade the show as well, with paintings of wood boards flanking actual wood structures, such as with “…Only inches away…,” and “Exterior Clapboards: Detroit”, questioning how the structures which we perceive around us in cities can both reveal and occlude vibrant histories.

In revealing the interiors of structures and their intrinsic relationship to exterior walls, Esposito notes that he, “concentrates on the interior and exterior of the walls, the space in between, the endless layers of palimpsest both polished and tarnished. It is a study of the soul of New York City.” Repeating motifs jostle for attention with surprising elements, such as a metal tag hanging off a string from the central board of “Leftovers.” City residents and guests strolling through New York will notice hanging objects proliferate throughout the city, whether it’s a hanging pair of shoes on power lines or a misplaced mitten hanging off a wrought-iron fence on a snowy day. The city gives as it takes away: construction materials throughout the exhibition also allude to real estate development and a city in constant cycles of demolishing and creating new buildings throughout the five boroughs. Visitors can approach these themes embedded within the exhibition in view of their own relationship to these different aspects of city life, finding correlations to their own journeys across, below, and around structures in New York City.

Installation image, “Chris Esposito: Wall Sandwich” at Amos Eno Gallery. Image courtesy of the artist.

The underlying landscape that supports the city’s infrastructure takes center stage in “Chris Esposito: Wall Sandwich.” Thanks to the artist’s clever compositions and keen insights, visitors are able pore over contrasting textures and surfaces presented at a range of scales and form connections between the works on view and the city’s many tangible layers of architectural histories.

“TORQUE” at Peninsula Art Space: Painting from All Angles

On view through July 4th at Peninsula Art Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, TORQUE brings a heightened attention to surface detail and the painterly gesture. The show’s title notes of torque that it “is the driving force for all human movement,” and paintings on view form a dialogue around how transitions and movement are expressed in painting. Works on view are by artists Craig Taylor, Georgia Elrod, Graham Durward and Allison Evans. From the painterly figurative stylings of Graham Durward to the jagged aggregations of brushstrokes by Craig Taylor, TORQUE offers a survey of painting that intimates and suggests more than it ultimately reveals.

Durward’s compositions contrast figures against seemingly idyllic backdrops, creating ambiguous figures inhabiting unsettling scenes. Off into the distance, a rising plume of smoke draws attention away from this close cadre of figures cavorting together, inserting another narrative into the scene that feels far removed from the vacation vista presented at first glance.

Installation view, “TORQUE” featuring work by Graham Durward at Peninsula Art Space

The scale of works on view also makes a strong impact, with works such as Georgia Elrod’s “Midnight Oils” overwhelming the viewer and beckoning them forward seemingly into a new dimension as they enter the space. The human figure is present throughout the exhibition, but these subjects are seemingly erased from view and/or presented in fragments. Works by Allison Evans form a cheeky commentary by filtering subversive figurative elements through the lens of historical elements such as Grecian urns, painting these in flat yet expressive brushstrokes. Craig Taylor’s works indicates his deft brushwork as a painter, allowing the surface of his paintings to seemingly expand outward through implied movement away from the picture plane.

Installation image, “TORQUE”, featuring work by Craig Taylor at Peninsula Art Space

TORQUE at Peninsula Art Space is open from 12-7 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and is located at 352 Van Brunt Street at Sullivan Street. Check out their website for more details on their exhibits: http://www.peninsulaartspace.com/ .

Tulu Bayar’s “Traces” Captivates Visitors at Amos Eno Gallery

By Mariel Tepper

Installation view, Tulu Bayar: Traces at Amos Eno Gallery (image courtesy the artist)

A feeling of lightness and buoyancy surrounds viewers upon entering “Traces,” a mixed-media installation by multidisciplinary artist Tulu Bayar on view through June 13th at Amos Eno Gallery. Over one hundred circular works composed of photographic film rolls, ink, and resin float weightlessly on the walls. These are presented in the space at varying heights as if rising and cresting, like a wave, and floating around the viewer. Dark rolls of film spiral, unravel, and protrude from the works with a deliberate sense of gesture and line, while vibrant colors swirl within the transparent resin. Citing influences such as calligraphy, Islamic manuscript painting, and ebru – the mesmerizing practice of Turkish marbling art – Tulu Bayar crafts a distinctive visual language that viewers can interpret and find meaning within.

Anchoring the space are four works which lie flat on plinths, offering the viewer the opportunity to peer down into their depths to explore Bayar’s works in more detail. Here, one can appreciate the materiality present and inherent to each unique work. Layered film rolls and multicolored inks sit on top of each other with a meditative stillness, as if frozen in time. “The gestural record on the surface stages a moment of existence that is no other moment,” remarks Bayar. “By containing that peculiar moment, I feel like I am able to memorialize the process.” 

Installation view, Tulu Bayar: Traces at Amos Eno Gallery (image courtesy the artist)

With “Traces,” Bayar deftly explores the metaphysical, the idea of oneness and the interconnected nature of beings and forms, and how individual difference resides within communal existence. This promotes an attitude of active engagement from the visitor.This lively, interactive process of “reading” reflects Bayar’s interest in the spirituality of mysticism and the teachings of Rumi. “The appearance of things changes according to emotions, and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves,” Bayar reflects, quoting Rumi directly. As we look into these works, we are looking into ourselves as well. As Bayar describes, this series embodies a “form of thinking and discovering a journey on a contained surface.” To embark on this journey with her, all viewers need is their imagination and a willingness to look.

Questions of Scale: Leah Harper’s “Mitosis” A Triumph at Yi Gallery

A visitor can be forgiven for entering Yi Gallery’s current exhibition, “Mitosis“, and wondering whether they’ve been shrunken down into an aesthetically pleasing science lab.

All that’s missing is the petri dish.

This solo show of works by Leah Harper indicates the scope and breadth of the artist’s multi-disciplinary practice in dialogue with the lived environment, particularly with regards to marine life.

“Colony 7” (2021) Glazed Porcelain, by Leah Harper for “Mitosis”.
Image courtesy Yi Gallery.

The abstracted “creatures” that the artist presents assume migratory patterns, frozen in a form of arrested motion. By foregrounding the objects themselves, one is compelled to think to a larger scale – that of the ocean itself. With light-filled sculptures installed in clusters on the floor of the gallery, minute azure-hued clusters of works arranged in meticulous sculptural groupings on one consolidated wall, and one-dimensional representations of these same minuscule “creatures” framed throughout the gallery space, guests are reminded to consider the scale of environments they encounter.

Another consideration is the fragility embodied by the range of “creatures” the artist has created for the exhibition. Whether embracing glazed porcelain, mixed media with resin or working on paper, the works Harper presents in “Mitosis” exude an element of precarity and preciousness. The flattened lines and graceful curves of Harper’s forms give visitors a tabula rasa from which to frame personal reflections on their own encounters with the ocean and its fragile ecosystems, such as coral reefs. These careful and clean linear stylings present in “Mitosis” are no accident, and their careful precision offer an homage to the delicate and overwhelming beauty found in nature’s presence.

Installation view of “Mitosis” at Yi Gallery, courtesy the gallery.

Originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida and currently based in close proximity to the Atlantic in New York City, Harper’s work provides a delicately beautiful elegy to the oceanic environments we are ever compelled to preserve, or risk losing forever. Drawing from a rich background spanning fine art, architecture and graphic design, Harper’s perceptive work echoes Heidegger’s concept of the essence of artwork as a means of access to better explore truth and culture. “Mitosis” serves as a springboard to better frame the truth of our lived environments, our responsibilities to them and our ability to perceive the beauty of the living creatures around us in their purest form.

“Mitosis” is on view at Yi Gallery through May 16, 2021, with visiting hours this Saturday, May 15th from 2-6 PM and other times by appointment only: https://calendly.com/yigallery/private-viewing?month=2021-05 .

Albright-Knox Northland’s “Comunidades Visibles” Features Artistic Highlights by Esperanza Cortés

When the Albright-Knox Northland art museum announced their exhibition “Comunidades Visibles: The Materiality of Migration (La Materialidad de Migración)” curated by Andrea Alvarez, the premise emerged over the course of the exhibition as a clearly communicated, and community-oriented, concept. The show features works by artists Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Esperanza Cortés, Raúl de Nieves, Patrick Martinez and Ronny Quevedo, all amassed for this exhibition, which remains on view through May 16 at the Albright-Knox Northland in Buffalo, NY. The exhibit focuses on highlighting works by First and Second-generation artists from the Latinx community based in the US, and presents materials in dialogue with lived histories and the effects of colonization. Of this tightly curated selection of artists, works forming highlights in this exhibition are installations by artist Esperanza Cortés, born in Colombia and based in New York City, which immediately catch the eye. Cortés investigates bodies and their accessories and frameworks in relation to both colonial legacies and gendered identities, and the sculptures she presents in this exhibition play with the evident and implied meanings of interiors and objects/material cultures. The compelling formal qualities present in the artist’s materials finds an echo in how the Latinx community encountering these works can respond to the installation art in visceral and personal ways.

LA CORDOBÉSA
2016 – 2017, Found embroidery, glass beads, glass pieces 
Upper chair 20th century, chair legs 18th century
(image courtesy Esperanza Cortés)

Cortés’ work embraces an ambitious range of scales, with bejeweled chains reaching up to glorious heights while meticulously arranged glass beads adorn household furniture displayed just out of reach from museum guests. Cortés investigates how everyday objects from the home can be transformed, even transmuted, to communicate precious qualities of identity and memory. Nowhere is this embodiment of human identity indicated in the artist’s work more visibly than in her work La Cordobésa, depicted above. “As a former Afro latin dancer and teacher, I imbued La Cordobésa with body memory through the use of the embroidery from my dance ensembles,” reflects Cortés. “I then married these remnants with glass beads and glass pieces referencing the origins of European colonial interest. The upper chair given to me by the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans is from the 20th century, while the chair legs acquired in Utica are from the 18th century. The piece is a hybrid, a metaphor for the diversity of the people who make up the Americas.” The artist’s work demonstrates a nuanced and powerful approach to the various means of self-identifying that communities of color undergo, asserting that colonized peoples have the power to reclaim their own sense of self, their own voice and the ability to exact agency via their self-asserted identities.

Meanwhile, the artist’s grand gesture evident in her work Empire lays bare both the price, and costs, of colonization. While colonizing forces were happy to take existing wealth present in the regions they colonized, often taking these precious materials by force to remit back home to Europe, the costs of this perceived luxury had a marked toll on local communities in colonized regions of the globe, particularly the Caribbean, Central and South America. The glory of these beautiful gold chains in the artist’s sculpture undulate forth from the chandelier down to the floor below, underscoring the deep impact that this search for treasure has continued to exert on devastated communities: in the artist’s own words, “Imbued with the invaders’ narcissistic gains, the process of colonization extinguished societies, cultures, languages, species, environments and histories by way of plunder, pillage, and violence dressed as civilization.” With grand form, Cortés creates an impactful and eloquent statement in her installation works on view about the lingering legacies that have transformed these regions of the world, adopting an autobiographical lens which allows visitors new avenues for contemplation around colonization.

EMPIRE
2016 – 2019, chandelier, gold leaf, 1200 feet of gold plated jewelry chain, brass beads, glass beads, velvet, 18′ L x 7′ dia.
(image courtesy Esperanza Cortés)

On view through this Sunday at Albright-Knox Northland, “Comunidades Visibles: The Materiality of Migration (La Materialidad de Migración)” is free and open to the public, and further details can be found on their website (link in exhibition title above.) Artist Esperanza Cortés is a Colombian-born contemporary multidisciplinary artist based in NYC. Cortés has exhibited in venues across the US, including Smack Mellon Gallery, Bronx Museum of Art, Queens Museum, El Museo Del Barrio, MoMA PS1 and Socrates Sculpture Park (all in NYC.) National exhibition venues include Turchin Center for The Visual Arts, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Art Museum.