Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Short & Bumpy Trajectory: Andres Monzon @ The Collective

"We arrived with nothing" --- Luz Estrella Ortiz, the artist's mother, talking about arriving from Medellin, Colombia to Miami with her family. It may have been true for the material things, but she arrived with plenty. Her profession as an entomologist, and hers and her son's artistry.

When we first spoke at the show's opening, I mentioned that in some of the works there seemed to be a veiling. He grinned and said "yes".

Andres Monzon was taught by his painter mother, as she was by her mother. That's quite a trajectory, three generations. He began, like most children, by doing free-form drawings, but his mother soon enrolled him into a ceramics class.

The artist is a handsome, energized, passionate twenty-three year old. Boyish, yet older than his years. The pieces in this show are part of what he calls "The Veiling Project". He talks about the object, symbolic, iconic objects and people, and its pall. The veils are a kind of nail-polish purple, a living, permeable membrane. He says they relate to memory and loss, nostalgia and fear of rejection of one's past.

The works can be seen here: [Link]

Look at "Celia", a picture that looks like it was taken from a video frame of the divine Celia Cruz, seen onstage from behind. Her figure is clad in the purple. She casts a shadow on each side of her, forming a triad, or past-present-future continuum. In the background, before her, a curtain. Has she already performed, and is
 walking offstage, or is she waiting for the curtain to open? It's the sweetly ambiguous nervous boundary layer between acceptance and rejection, the stage fright we have all known at one time or another. In this case, the purple lifts Celia from the gray matter surrounding her. She is almost floating above the surface of the oil painting.

Click on the "Self-Portrait after Durer".  It is based on this one [Link], wherein Durer envisioned himself in all his glory, in a Christ-like persona: The Artist as Redeemer. Note the differences between the two. Andres is not dressed in the finery Durer was. He is not as confident or fully formed. His tie with the past is more formal here, the veil, in the viewer's mind.

"Casa Gutierrez" is directly linked to the artist. It has been the family home for generations, and they are trying to save this icon of their past, perhaps as a museum.

The "Portrait of Aileen de Lima" is literally veiled. The drape partially over it is part of the work, sometimes completely over it, others, almost 100% off. The viewer, as with everything else in life, sees whatever is being revealed at the moment, the rest is left to his imagination. Ms. de Lima remains somewhere in between.

Andres' trajectory and presence lengthens with this strong show, which can be seen at The Collective (aka Collective Gallery and Workspace), at 601 Central Ave, St Petersburg. Tue. - Sun, 12 noon to 8PM.

--- Luis 

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