A Lost World Comes Alive at La Esquina’s Debut Exhibit by Paul Desenne

Celebrated Venezuelan-born cellist and composer Paul Desenne returns to his painting roots in “Pictures of the Lost World”, a series of works on canvas depicting the imaginary scenes of El Dorado. The exhibit, opening Tuesday, Dec 11 from 6-8 pm at La Esquina (203 Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan) depicts the fabled lost world of gold and riches, documented by Spanish conquistadors in South America in the 16th century. Curated by Natasha Stefanovic of Beautiful Things Curated, Desenne’s artistic debut in New York City pays homage to the tales of the wealth and riches attributed to native peoples in the path of conquistadors traversing South America. El Dorado is considered by some to be hidden deep in the heart of Venezuela, and Desenne – born in Caracas – evokes the mythologies of this treasured legend. Desenne draws from this storied mythology to envision a world of expressive natural imagery as seen through the eyes of the indigenous folk who called the lands hiding El Dorado home.

Yopotime by Paul Desenne, oil on canvas. Image courtesy Beautiful Things Curated

Recently celebrated in performances at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Desenne extends his celebrated flair for capturing delicate details in these lush, colorful works. The artworks are not only rooted in a strong sense of color, but also express the emotion of figures depicted in these figurative works. “I started a series of pictures adding layers of geographic realism and fictional narrative to the fantastic creatures imagined by European illustrators,” notes Desenne. “The maps and publications of this period depict all kinds of monstrous creatures springing from the medieval imagination, spurred by the unbelievable accounts of the newly explored continent.” In addition to careful research imbuing his paintings with re-imagined histories rooted in actual geographical formations, Desenne dissects the misunderstandings of Spanish conquistadors to pay homage to the actual citizens of South America, particularly his native Venezuela. Notes Desenne, “I represent the strikingly visual aspect of this New World: [a] land of projections, where the Eldorado is nothing but a hallucination of conquerors… I also work on the representation of possible scenes in familiar settings, such as the natives in the Yopo ceremony in front of the mountains in the valley of Caracas.” Desenne notes the significance of reclaiming native viewpoints in his works, observing, “the layers of landscape, narrative and speculation overlap and integrate on these thinly yet colorfully treated canvases, bringing the strangest lost worlds back to life.”

Don’t miss the debut of Paul Desenne’s “Pictures of the Lost World”, curated by Natasha Stefanovic, at La Esquina, 203 Lafayette Street, on Tuesday, Dec 11 from 6-8 pm.