In his 18th solo exhibition, 22ESB75CC, Dex Fernandez sprawls the reach of the gallery walls—and floors—to unleash what is at once intimately autobiographical and universally expansive, a frenetic survey of the past two years of his life marked by the death of a parent, a serious medical situation, a confrontation turned violent. Fernandez transmits these events (and more) through the prism of his personal iconography suggestive of anything from cell mutations to starbursts.
The metaphorical beginning of this exhibition is his childhood home—the acronym of the title reduced into a code—in which his deceased parents transform into symbols merging into the environment at once celestial and subterranean. From this point, one proceeds to the mural dazzlingly chronicling the events of recent past, then onwards to the terrific replication of his garapata icon, then to the monochromatic rendition of the life of a party with its rhythms and erotic possibilities, concluding with a lone figure, crouched in a fetal position, floating into the void.
Everywhere in the exhibition there is movement, dance, the impulse to connect and disengage, as the universe of Fernandez keeps expanding: from the streets, to the bars, to the hectic textures of cities, to the evolving spheres populated with flashing gizmos and signs and motifs—staggering in scope, unstoppable in its expansion, hypnotic in its repetitions.
22ESB75CC pulls all the stops in bringing his paintings, wallpaper works, and garapata series in a new and unprecedented scale—a performance of a singular sensibility and seemingly limitless energy. It is a portrait of the artist, yes, but it may also be of the viewer, who swirls into the velocity and vortex of this exhibition, becoming a beating heart to the visual orchestra that Fernandez conducts, one that is marked by an immersive, tremendous, and never-ending creation, mutation, and transformation
(Carlomar Arcangel Daoana).
Four Things In Michelle Perez’s new set of paintings, she simplified and schematized four things by not just utilizing gestural marks and geometric shapes, but also visually manifesting an artist’s reliance on the intuitive process. Equally important to our appreciation of intuition in creative work, we can also anchor our journey to understanding the exhibited works to the meaning of non-figurative types of art. “Abstract art is often seen as carrying a moral dimension, in that it can be seen to stand for virtues such as order, purity, simplicity, and spirituality." Through these four virtues, we can associate Perez’s four paintings to ideas that resonate with us. Thing of order There is a glaring contrast in the artwork Stone Piles. The red and orange hues of the background are reminiscent of the sun rising or setting. In the painting, the colors are made to complement a pile of stones we usually associate with or see in beaches or the shore with cool tones where flat rocks are usually found. They were rendered to appear as silhouettes at the center of the image plane. When Perez made the work, she felt that it was a complete piece after collaging and applying paint of different sizes and shapes. But by yielding to the urge of innovation in her art practice, she incorporated the black pieces to form the stone piles. There is an evident order of thought in the process that is transmitted to the viewing of the painting. Even in abstraction, there is common linearity as we attempt to understand it. Thing of purity Perez was attracted to a leaf drawing made by American artist Ellsworth Kelly she saw in a friend’s photo. The artwork must have been one of Kelly’s plant drawings, which he did over the years of his artistic practice that is widely known for abstraction. Perez mimicked the shapes and transformed them into surfaces she can use for her piece After Kelly. The painting with greens and yellows illustrates for us a kind of pure connection. According to one article on Kelly, “Plants, then, are a gateway to abstraction – much like the windows, staircases and other neutral bits of which Mr. Kelly derived some of his early paintings.” The two artists are linked by the style of color field painting, more so through this perceptible bind of aesthetic influence. Thing of simplicity The painting Sticks, Stones, Things conjures for us the joy we feel through simple things. There is so much visual satisfaction when an artist can make an abstract work comprehensible and is done with virtuosity. The combination of the geometrical lines, graphic representation, and playful use of color situate our imagination in a degree of limitless freedom; much like what Perez feels about her chosen medium. There is also simplicity in the process of giving in to one's creative urge. Despite the skills she gained from training on enamel painting and portraiture, she chooses to explore the infinity of abstraction. Even though she is frustrated by the tediousness of the labor needed and trial and error mode to build an idea into a finished form, she is dedicated to evolving and reinventing her works through further exploration without boundaries. Thing of spirituality When asked about her artistic process, Perez said that making art harnesses her intuition, because deciding whether a painting is complete or not relies solely on her instinct. She was inspired by Aboriginal art she encountered while she was living in Australia. Even when she settled back here, the influence of the spiritual link of indigenous art manifests in her works. Since then, she has incessantly reanimated these dot paintings into works with depth, texture, and that employs unlikely techniques such as collaging. After the Rain directly demonstrates the transcendent response to the challenge of knowing when to stop or to continue working on something. There is an extent of spirituality when intuition and instinct come into play. In women studies, it has been observed that depending on instinct is an important adaptive approach for self-protection, self-assertion, and self-definition. To immerse ourselves in the viewing experience of the displayed four paintings, we empower the artist in her self-discovery in this artistic path. (Con Cabrera)
this used to be a house
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard referred to a house as our “corner of the world”, a place where we reside and take root. Its corners and spaces serve as the setting in which the residues of our life accrue. So fundamental is our connection to these structures that we often go through life seemingly tethered to them. For many, regardless of the distance of their travels, a seemingly unbroken string binds them to home. But if our house occupies an elemental position in our being, the summer house— that backdrop of countless vacations— dwells in a more unconventional, but nonetheless vital, part of our selves.
The imagery of the house is a cornerstone of Isha Naguiat’s visual language. Her works navigate through the materiality of fabric and thread, interspersed with the emotional and nostalgic significations of family photos. These layers of material and image are often framed within the basic structure of a house. Here in her latest exhibition, the artist turns her attention to a family abode by the beach that in recent years have been eaten up by the sea.
In both static and moving images, Naguiat juxtaposes past and present, rendering the house’s structure in flux and recalling gaps in time that led to its transfiguration. These gaps have often been traversed by way of recorded image or narrative retelling, anchored within the walls and beams where the events took place. The vacation house then, even in ruins, can summon the perpetual sunshine of carefree days, the insouciant crash of waves.
Learning how the scrap remains of the house were used by the local community to create a seawall, Naguiat reckons of a dual narrative— one of decay and of life. In the coming centuries we may not be able to keep the waters at bay. The habitations we carve from stone and sand may prove to be futile. Yet in the gap between the present and the inevitable, potential futures expand and take space, materials dance and metamorphose. The same concrete which shores up memories of the sea also stems its tides.