Sculptures and Written Testimonies, 1998-2008
Charles Juhasz-Alvarado: Complicated Stories will present the artist’s past and present bodies of works as an ongoing dialogue on social consciousness and cultural identity. Charles Juhasz-Alvarado’s elaborate site-specific installations engage the viewer through narrative, performance, audio, and sculpture to introduce a fantasy world that serves as an acute and humorous allegory of today’s multicultural society and the artist’s own background.
The artist was born in 1965 on Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines to a Hungarian father and a Puerto Rican mother. He grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, attended Yale University in Connecticut, and now resides in Puerto Rico. These socio-cultural influences are addressed in his works, which often allude to his varied background and the historical and political conditions of those places.
Charles Juhasz-Alvarado, drawing for Winged Termite (resist!), 2008
Juhasz-Alvarado’s works are playful monoliths, combining monumental size with biting satire and political humor. In I-Scream (resist!), 2004, the artist complicates the history of Puerto Rican-American relations through the depiction of the 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo van by the Macheteros (a pro-independence Puerto Rican organization) with an ice cream truck complete with a Mount Rushmore-shaped Popsicle. The Garden of Forbidden Fruit / Zona Franca is a complex installation exploring how the merging of divergent cultures creates desires and consequent limitations through a hilarious depiction of a Puerto Rican airport. The airport becomes the ultimate allegory for the opposition of the Puerto Rican and American experiences. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a new, commissioned work titled Winged Termite. This massive installation, made rather ironically from wood, references Leonardo daVinci’s idea to build a flying mac hine modeled on the shape, proportions and mechanics of flying animals such as birds, bats or, in this case, a winged termite. Hanging from the ceiling of Exit Art, the work invites the viewer to climb inside the machine and act as the “conductor”.
In this age, where many artists work with assistants or even hire out their work for other people to produce, Charles Juhasz-Alvarado has mastered the literal crafting involved in constructing his visions. He works hands-on, asserting his complete control over all aspects of his imagination. The artist himself is not only seen in the concept, but manifests himself in the shaping of steel, in the shaving of wood, so that when the viewer enters the installation, the works involve the viewer in one coherent thought.
This major project, Charles Juhasz-Alvarado: Complicated Stories, will be a vital opportunity to survey the work of this important contemporary artist and to introduce him to American audiences, where he has had limited exposure.
Curated by Jeanette Ingberman and Papo Colo.