Jose Alvarez. Courtesy of The Kitchen.
The Kitchen will present the first New York solo exhibition by the Florida-based artist, Jose Alvarez. Entitled The Visitors, the show brings together a selection of recent work, from newly created crystal paintings and psychedelic collages to performative videos and photographs that continue his exploration of mysticism, science, spirituality, magic and the construction of belief. Taken as a whole, the work emphasizes how the unfolding of psychic hoaxes, the perceived supernatural energy of charmed objects and the mysterious quests underlying space exploration all connect to the strong human desire for knowledge and transformation.
A painter, performance artist and video maker, Jose Alvarez is perhaps best-known internationally for his charismatic performances in which he “channeled” the 2,000-year old spirit of the shaman, Carlos, in front of live audiences and in media broadcasts across the globe in the United States, China, Australia, Europe, and South America. Intending to demystify and expose the questionable character of proclaimed faith healers and cult-like spiritual leaders, Alvarez reveals within the structure of the performances, his identity as an artist and the false promises such figures offer the public.
In more recent years, Alvarez has turned away from live performance and has instead been making video works that investigate similar themes, and paintings derived from special materials known for their symbolic mystical powers—crystals, exotic bird feathers and porcupine quills. The first major showing of Alvarez’s work in New York since his debut in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, The Visitors reveals how the varied strains of his practice interconnect in his personal quest for scientific and spiritual “truth.”
Together, the work reflects the influences of his long-standing dialogue with James Randi, the famous magician and renowned challenger of paranormal phenomena; and the writings of Carlos Castaneda, the Peruvian anthropologist/guru who authored several controversial books detailing the teachings of a Mesoamerican shaman (and after whom Alvarez’s performance persona is named); as well as the effect of his recent visits to Houston’s NASA Space Flight Center’s lunar lab and Australia’s Parkes Observatory telescope.