Saturday, May 7, 2011

Artists in Collaboration with Proyecto X

Ana Labastida Blanca Amezkua Paz de la Calzada Maria Adela Diaz Rachel Hoffman Josefina Jacquin Camilla Newhagen Jessica Lagunas Marya Kazoun Olivia Song Park Patricia Tinajero Cristina Velazquez O Zhang

Friday, February 18, 2011

November 1985 Exhibition

In November 1985, Josefina Jacquin makes reference to a complex series of events that occurred in her native Colombia. In this body of work, she not only refers to a chronology of news but also points to a number of socio-political issues.

The characters, colors and silkscreen technique have been carefully chosen to produce this exhibition. November 1985 aesthetics is inspired in the work of Pop artist Andy Warhol. Like Warhol, Jacquin isolates images in a brightly colored background. She also utilizes repetition as a technique to create a collage of different subjects. Unlike Warhol, Jacquin does not choose jet setters from the eighties era but portrays people belonging to a stark reality.

Jacquin manipulates the image of the Take of the Palace of Justice in Bogotá as point of departure to produce the most iconographic of works. Instead of choosing images of Hollywood celebrities, Jacquin depicts the image of her own brother Alfonso Jacquin Gutierrez, one of the participants in the take of the Palace of Justice. This work has a cathartic feeling in nature and it is a poignant homage to Alfonso at once.

From the personal realm, Jacquin takes a leap into the political arena by depicting portraits of public figures associated with this event, the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar and former president Belisario Betancur. By recycling the image of Take of the Palace, Jacquin creates a Triptych forming the yellow, blue and red colors of the Colombian flag. This is a comment to the country as motherland.

In Miss Colombia 1985, Jacquin inspires herself in Warhol’s work Princess Caroline of Monaco, 1983. The sunny, yellow background, the blue eye shadow and the silver jewels make a visual resonance of Warholean quality. By juxtaposing the image of Miss Colombia, Jacquin lightens up thematically this exhibition. This image also reminds us of the role women continue to play as objects of desire and how beauty pageants serve as a distraction to harsher realities.

Omayra de Armero is a touching depiction of a tragic event. This is a votive work to Omayra’s agony due to the Mt. Arenas volcanic eruption. Jacquin makes a pictorial prayer to the memory of an innocent child whose untimely demise captured the media’s attention.

November 1985 is Jacquin’s personal memoir. With this work, she wants to share history so it does not repeat itself. This is a history that is not exclusive to Colombia but it also resonates with other Latin American countries. By using Pop Art, she makes this story palatable. Looking back, the artist wants to come to terms with pain, loss and the past.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Future Landscapes Designed by Women

Photo: Maria Adela Díaz
Curated by Patricia Rodriguez, the Solo Mujeres 2009 exhibit is another milestone in the tradition of women artists shows at Mission Cultural Center. This year’s exhibition titled Future Landscapes Designed by Women is an eclectic show with gender issues at its crux.

Solo Mujeres, a haven for Latina/Chicana artists, exhibits since the late 80’s. The demographic composition of artists represents the multi-ethnic population of San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. This exhibition includes sculpture, painting, works on paper, video and installation.

In her video-performance Territorio Invisible, María Adela Díaz covers herself with white paint alluding to the body, and the dichotomy between presence and absence. Anais Ye’s painting Mao wearing red lipstick has a puzzled look as if wondering what is going on in China today. Ye questions China’s embracing of Western values and politics.

A day in the office by Michelle Waters is a humorous rendition of animals looking at humans in a zoo’s den. Waters creates a reversal of roles, and she also alludes to environmental issues. Pink Bits by Marsha Shaw is a 50’s replica of her mother’s living room. Serving as a backdrop, pink wallpaper shows images of eggbeaters, vibrators, and whiskers. Defining public and private space, this piece reclaims female sexuality. Like Díaz, Shaw addresses body image issues.

Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ writing, Universos, an installation by Isabel Barbuzza, deconstructs language using discarded copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Pages create organic forms reminding us of floral shapes. Here, Barbuzza alludes to knowledge obsolescence of labyrinthine proportions.

Future Landscapes Designed by Women comes together as a women show with a non-thematic approach which includes an array of issues: gender environment, literature, and politics. Solo Mujeres characterizes itself as a show with strong women work, but it is weaken by the politics of inclusion under the emergent art rubric. Yet, this current show it is subject to multiple interpretations as to what future landscapes might mean.

Cecilia Nuín
Independent curator

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dolls, Sex, and Other Toys: Works by Camilla Newhagen

Olga & Lorraine by Camilla Newhagen
Camilla Newhagen creates playful, sculptural forms incarnating the female body. Sitting on chairs or laying unobtrusively around the artist’s studio, the dolls display a body language that evoke a sense of abandonment arousing in the viewer a fascinating feeling. The erotic nature of Newhagen figures not only demonstrate an incisive understanding of woman as a sexual being, but it also expresses that these artworks do not conform to a canon of desire.

Breasts, buttocks, and limbs give shape to a distorted female anatomy. By using lingerie, Newhagen creates carefully hand sewn pieces. Brassieres, bustiers, corsets, and girdles match the most artificial flesh color slips. According to the artist,.” Lingerie is like gift wrapping. Such garments cover a woman’s body to present herself as an object of desire --like a gift. By stuffing the slips, she adds volume to the dolls creating suppleness and translucency. Thighs and legs achieve the effect of fatty tissue and spongy cellulite. Striking, red stitches on white fabric refer to blood and scars.

Materials inform Newhagen’s process. Satin, silk, and antique lingerie appeals to the material’s tactile quality. She thinks as a sculptor incorporating forms as she handles the material. One can follow the way the artist works by observing her embroidered name claiming ownership, --or in her use of tags to create the work’s name. By sewing, Newhagen feels that she understand the female body because she has done the ground work --the domestic work. This points home, a domestic setting conceived as an intimate enclosure where women work.

In La Belle, a headless doll with a beige corset, Newhagen placed black fur coming out of a hairy crotch. This decorative, faux fur alludes to society’s preoccupation and phobia with hair. She portrays the doll in such naturalistic way making it appear mysterious. Appendages like a stump become a headless torso. An elongated limb ending in a red hoof imbues the piece with a sense of vulnerability. The hoof stands for a deformed foot pointing to anthropomorphic characteristics, but is also alludes to a dehumanizing feeling. The arms clasped behind her back indicate a position of submission. These convoluted shapes are reminiscent of La Poupee a work by Hans Bellmer.

Also headless, Feline exhibits a crotch that is a continuation of its torso. It is as if the crotch represents the woman’s absent head. The doll symmetrical proportions, a narrow waist and generous bosom, conform to anatomical measurements of what is perceived sexually attractive. The left breast exhibits a rosy nipple which is at once a prescription for desire and procreation. According to Newhagen,“Feline represents a prostitute,” and she adds,”Her fragmented body alludes to rape, and abortions.” It is as if Feline stands as a repository of lust, violence and death. This point to an ambivalence between desire and contempt a prostitute might awaken in her john.

Wearing beige slips, Olga & Lorraine’s are two dolls joint at the abdomen. Headless, and limb-less, the fat one with a pointy neck shaped like an elephant’s tusk supports the slim one. Appearing to float in space, the slim doll wears red lace running along her sole underarm. Olga & Lorraine allude to the yo-yo effect of weight change some women experience to reach an idealize figure. Both figures are one and the same, yet separate entities. This points to an internal conflict women endure in the realm of perception regarding their own bodies.

Unlike Bellmer’s work, Newhagen’s pieces are not objects of desire. They are not instances to please the male gaze. If Bellmer built dismembered pieces like La Poupee as an object of desire, Newhagen constructs her works to challenge, and question the rapes, abortions, and violence perpetrated against our own humanity. Newhagen also works on memory as a way of remembering things that have been forgotten. In this manner, she forms a link between past and present. For the artist, time is of essence as she travels back and forth between her manipulation of the material and her interpretation of the body. Newhagen’s work is beyond desire, and sexuality, and it demonstrates how pleasure is not divorced from pain and sex cannot be separated from death.

Aesthetics of Real Nature

Paz de la Calzada's Fake
Taking the site of Blacklock Nature Conservancy as a backdrop, Cristina Ferrández creates El Viaje Infinito (The Endless Voyage). By presenting a photographic series, Ferrández, develops an exercise of vanishing images of the body immersed in nature. In these images, she alludes to the transformation of corporeality. Through the process of dematerialization, she explores different psychic levels of human nature.

Created at an artist in residence program in Millay Colony, Fake is Paz de la Calzada's most recent production. Inspired by nature, de la Calzada shaped objects based on natural elements like leaves and plants. Made of fabric, Fake is an investigation between nature and artifact. In Fake, de la Calzada examines the dialect between real and false. In a search of what is perceived as real, de la Calzada question what is genuine. Here, the artist inquires which object is more real the artwork itself or the object in which the piece was inspired from.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Photo: Guillermo A López

Olivia Song Park’s White Lies

Upon entering, white strings falling from the ceiling divide the gallery space. Like cords of a musical instrument, these resonate with the in vogue expression, no strings attached -- defining fleeting liaisons in today’s society. The exhibition White Lies by Olivia Song Park closed last night at Mina Dresden gallery.

Park Song makes tiny circles of perforated punch holders, Q-tip swabs, and strings, the works in White Lies create a subdued atmosphere that is a play of white on white. The white cube with a floor covered with butcher paper, and the small white pieces required an effort from the viewer to be appreciated. White is the color par excellence used in today’s contemporary art. The color white not only refers to purity, but it also alludes to issues of race.

Illuminated from behind, Hole is a round object formed by dozens of swabs sticks, creates a honeycomb-like structure. Song Park utilizes swabs not only to retouch her make up, but she also uses them as material for her art practice. The swabs allude to repetitive motions and every day actions. These activities become a ritual, and they also refer to domesticity, the body, and beauty.

A cutout paper of rectangular shape recreates concentric irregular forms at the center. Superimpossed sheets of paper create a ladder effect. The jagged lines, and pointy corners become an exercise of geometrical proportions. Recalling landscapes of earth’s crust formations, this work imitates shapes found in nature.

White Lies is an exercise on language. According to the artist, the exhibition's name is a play on words. Initially, this project stemmed from the artist trying to explore the meaning of the phrase “white lies” and its seemingly harmless meaning. In contrast, according to Song Park, a red lie in Korea means a blatant lie -impossible to mistake for a truth.

Song Park’s preoccupation leads her to the making of her craft in an attempt to arrest the inexorable passing of time. Song Park’s quality of work lies between the obsessive and the painstainking. Honeycomb shapes, landscape forms are figures inspired in geometry and nature.

By far, this is the most succesful show at Mina Dresden not only because of the sensitive quality of the pieces, but also by the care given to the presentation of the works.

Cecilia Nuín