by Elena Martinique
Gonzalo Fuenmayor is a Colombian-born and Miami-based artist who creates stunning, surreal drawings exploring the ethnic pride with the culturally and politically critical approach. Throughout his practice, the artist explores his position as an outsider in the United States and his cultural heritage within the context of his new home. As the art critic DeWitt Cheng wrote, the artist ironically juxtaposes ‘clichéd aspects of [indigenous] tropical culture… with [forcibly imposed European] Rococo and Victorian style elements’. The art critic Alison McCarthy described his work as ‘eye candy with serious heft’. Dolby Chadwick Gallery will present a solo exhibition of Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s new works entitled Picturesque. This new body of work continues to explore the complicated warp of nature and culture between the colonial Europe and the colonized Third World.
The new body of work deals with a recurring subject matter such as the exploration of exoticism, the constant negotiation of identity-heritage and dislocation. In these new charcoal drawings, which have grown both in scale and complexity, the artist creates tension by combining odd and absurd architectural hybrids and questioning the contextualization of the tropical culture. The Surrealist shock coming from the fusion of anachronistic elements in Fuenmayor’s previous drawings has been replaced with the creation of ‘dramatic/atmospheric’ scenarios resembling mysterious stage sets. The pair of armchairs is violently pierced by a palm tree trunk with the dark power of Caravaggio and a grand palatial salon is framing an empty swimming pool resembling a coffered Versailles ceiling. Thus, the life becomes surreal and the ‘new normal’ is unprecedentedly odd.
The performance, the stage and theatricality are very important for Fuenmayor. The pool as a symbol of ‘tropicalia’ serves as a stage within these absurd spaces such as vast empty Victorian Palaces. As well as a traditional status symbol, the swimming pool is also a modern version of a pond with the water symbolizing the dark subconscious. Empty of water and swimmers, these pools seem absurd. Combining surrealism and social criticism, these drawings portray the irrationality of a modern world as it is, stripped of the socioeconomic myth of consumerism and accumulation of material things.
Founded in 1997 in San Francisco, Dolby Chadwick Gallery represents an international roster of both emerging and midcareer artists working in various media. Embracing a diversity of subject matter, styles and approaches, the gallery is interested in exploring and redefining visual perception and optical effects. The exhibition Picturesque will be on show at Dolby Chadwick Gallery from September 1st until October 1st, 2016. The opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 1st, from 5:30 to 7:30pm.