Magnan Metz Gallery presents two exhibitions by Amelia Biewald and Raul Cordero.
Amelia Biewald: Perfect From Now On
Amelia Biewald’s artwork is rooted in the intricacies of fables, art histories and inherent visual possibilities of “supernaturalness”. Inspired by the eerie beauty of caves, and the visual appearance of their organic timeless structures, Biewald transforms the gallery space into a subterranean cave-scape. In the large wall drawing Salon Noire (Niaux Cave, France) (2010), sensuous, contrasting surfaces, transparencies and textures are produced with a labor-intensive layering technique similar to the slow formation of cave structures like stalactites and stalagmites. Similar to the cave paintings at Lascaux, France, Biewald’s piece creates a space where the lines between the natural and the artificial are blurred, creating a tableau of desire and anxiety, boldness and accomplishment.
In Perfect From Now On, the beauty of the subterranean cave world is linked to the grandeur of castles and cathedrals from the Baroque period. Referencing a theory that ancient cave paintings were translations of constellations, Biewald creates a series of carefully crafted glass bell jars, serving as mini dioramas. In the piece Andromeda (Chained Maiden) (2010) we see a vast world unfold within the confines of a crystalline encasement. As the artist explains, “I have always been interested in the artifice and illusion inherent in eighteenth century society; here I imagine subterranean courtesans, intrigues and encounters.” In Andromeda, Biewald fuses both ancient systems of understanding the natural world with a clutter of modern man’s follies. By transporting these characters into the timelessness of the crystal, they become one with the formation of the subterranean world- like the ant imprisoned in amber for millions of years- perfect from now on.
Raúl Cordero: Make it Plain
Born in Havana, Cuba (1971), Raúl Cordero has been a presence on the international art scene since the mid-90s. His work reveals a fascination with the interplay of digital media and traditional painting. For Make it Plain, several of Cordero’s paintings from the “Optional Title Series” come together to explore this intersection. Using video recordings, Cordero captures images of random moments and combines them on the computer, eventually translating the edited result onto canvas. Cordero uses the term “zapping” to explain this process, linking it to switching channels on a TV set, ‘When you switch channels rapidly you flick through images to find one that is attractive to you, when they no longer attract you, you press the button.” This method can be seen in the painting I saw a door (2007), in which an image of a hallway is placed over that of the interior of PS 1, colorful dots dancing across the surface. The spliced images confuse our typical reading of the picture plane and our sense of logical time: we are not sure which image comes first, where one ends and the next begins; we are forced to contemplate a world beyond that of the pictorial space, one that is neither inside nor outside of it, but of the infinite.
Cordero’s paintings from the “Optional Title Series” are also marked with an array of “pointillist” statements, a series of colorful dots that spell out words alluding to the images they are painted across. In a) Proyecto “Pintado” de insercion comunitara / b) Todavia vida mia (2007), the pointillist constructions create “Todavia Vida Mia” (“Still My Life”). The statement at first tantalizes us with the prospect of gaining further insight into the meaning of the painting, but upon closer inspection we find that rather than complementing the images, the words disrupt the picture plane, confusing it. For Cordero, an image that can be read in-and-of itself is not complete. It must instead be complicated by another element- visually or textually—to fully be realized. The lettering is also reminiscent to the read-out of an LED screen, once more referencing digital media. In his technique, Cordero allows electronic imaging to join the ranks of painting, memorialized in a moment caught on canvas.