Galeria Nara Roesler | New York is pleased to present Corners, an exhibition of new works by Alexandre Arrechea. Comprising works on paper, board and tapestry, it continues the artist’s eponymous series, which he says “was born of a desire to create a visual likeness of Havana”. In carefully constructed photo-collages of the city’s facades, Arrechea creates images that refer to representations of faces, especially those in tribal masks. This will be the artist’s second solo with the Gallery and first at its New York location.
Arrechea’s work employs visual metaphors for social themes of inequality, cultural disenfranchisement, and the disputed position of art in a global, media-driven society. As Lowery Stokes Sims observes, he has “consistently used architectural forms and motifs to convey emotional and political states”. Like many artists of his generation, he manipulates symbols and materials in an ambivalent manner, causing the viewer to walk away without a specific point of view about the work. In Corners Arrechea seeks a “merging between excluding worlds” creating collages made from a group of photographs of the corners of Havana buildings; known gathering places in the urban fabric. In some instances, the corners of anonymous places are layered on top of those with a deep historic resonance. Superimposing one image over the other, taking symmetry, proportion, textures, light and shadows into account; the various building fragments are re-ordered into a new co-existence and identity.
Remarking on the series, Arrechea sates: “Each portrait becomes a form of ‘social engineering.’ The corners of schools, theaters, gas stations, markets, and police stations are forced into obedience of new loyalties. There are corners that talk, corners that observe, ones that listen, laugh, and remain silent. With the passage of time and maturity these portraits have become complicated to the point where they are maps that mock the order of existence and give way to new assumptions. Each portrait is a celebration of the singularity of the corner and its symbolic potential, where color and diverse surface finishes are the primary protagonists.”
Born in 1970 in Trinidad, Cuba, Alexandre Arrechea graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana in 1994 and was a founding member of the collective Los Carpinteros (1994-2003). He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide including The Map of Silence, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba (2015); and The Rules of Play, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah (2010). Last year Arrechea participated in Imagined Borders, the 12th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea; the inaugural Open Spaces, Kansas City, USA (2018); and in 2017, Condemned To Be Modern, curated by Clara Kim as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (PST: LA/LA), Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG), Los Angeles, USA. In 2013, New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation, and The Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee presented Arrechea's No Limits, a site-specific installation along Park Avenue. Confronting viewers with contorted representations of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers; such as the Chrysler, Empire State, Flatiron and Seagram buildings, the ten monumental sculptures raised questions about the role of architecture in the manipulation of power and control. The artist represented his country in the Cuban Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011. Arrechea’s work is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco; Museo del Barrio, New York; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; Brooklyn Museum, New York; San Diego Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana; Museo Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Daros Collection, Zurich; Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation, Vienna; and Cincinnati Museum of Contemporary Art.