It’s Not Just A Portrait
3rd November 2021 – 23rd December 2021
Jonni Cheatwood, Matthew Eguavoen, Iván Forcadell, Amir H Fallah, Margaux Henry-Thieullent, Alexander James and Lucía Tello.
When it comes to people, I realized that I have so much to talk about (and to write about it), from the way that we look to others, how we dress, the utilization of accessories, and the body. Starting with the contact through the hands when shaking them and ending up with the gaze that is able to transmit more than the words.
I will start from that first glance. This exhibition gathers a selection of paintings from artists coming from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures. In all of those artworks, the artist confronts himself with the portrait of two different patrons, the self-portrait and the portrait of the others and the personal gaze is always present. From family members as we can see in the portrait of James’ grandmother to the unknown personage by Cheatwood, passing by the paintings of Eguavoen in which he reflects on the slavery and the dilution of the history of his own country.
The portrait has always been an important player in art, from the self-portraits made in ancient Egypt, and the Middle Age to the Renaissance when it came to fame thanks to the large diffusion of the requests made by the royal families. It was somehow, a way to have a reminder for the future, to conserve a long-lasting photograph of a person but in a very unique manner. In every portrait, the artist has his own choices about what to show and how to position the subject. In most cases, if the subject is present, through the portrait we can know how the subject wanted to be depicted, or how the artist wanted to depict him/her.
There’s no possibility of finding a neutral portrait, I have been told, and it’s truly said. I pop-in at Lucía Tello’s studio, where the influence of surrealism and the toy world (where femininity values are present) took me to “Fetiche”, the work by her that is currently at the group show. Who is? are you? is someone you know? Lucía denies with the head. It’s a person created in her mind that has a large earring and that she loves it. Thus, she has built the face around it, the painting can take us to other people we met, to memories starting from neutral and becoming someone in our minds. This unknown earring carrier is placed within the gallery space looking towards Margaux painting. That once for all mixes the utilization of the pictorial language (in some parts with a digital approach) portraying a contemporary couple in full digestion of the news. Positioning them in a time when the entire world is engaged by the screens. A painting that inevitably has influences from the Picassian portraits and that takes us to a very familiar environment, especially for our proximity to Málaga.
Without going far from the familiar environment and indeed, the personages that take part, we stop by the paintings by Alexander where he seeks to explore how identities are created and subsequently shaped in the contemporary world. Artworks that have been created through the process of remembering faces, gestures, and photographs and always considering the relevance of the identity that can be connected with our mind through the traits. Those identities that he uses could be seen by different language in the body of work of Cheatwood where he simplifies the body down to the clothing and the hair of the subject. His portrayal of emotions appears in the mess of colorful lines in the face of those subjects. Again, the artist makes us think about the identity of the person that is behind that “amalgam” of colors. I couldn’t see any painting by Jonni with a face as we know them and I understood the task of finding one is the duty of the viewer. That can see the personal experiences from different points of view from the black portraits created by Matthew in which he speaks about specific difficulties of his home country to the personal affective relations that Iván addresses in his paintings speaking about how he sees the people around him and the interactions with them. Combining different techniques from painting to collage and even including found items, the utilization of the color palette is ongoing research that for him plays an important role.
The exhibition concludes with a portrait of Amir H. Fallah with a work where we find symbols and characters that take advantage of ambiguity to skillfully weave reality and fiction, while questioning how to create a portrait without representing the physicality of the model. The stories surrounding her themes are deeply personal and told through the intimate possessions they hold most dear, her work addresses generational experiences of movement, trauma, and celebration of immigrants. Fallah wryly incorporates historical references to Western art into paintings formally rooted in the pattern-based visual language of Islamic art.
Remembering the portraits generating new formalizations is the essence of this exhibition.
JONNI CHEATWOOD, Papercut Rico, 2021
Oil, acrylic, alkyd and sewing on cotton sewn to canvas
100 x 90 cm
MATTHEW EGUAVOEN, Did We Really Leave The Plantation, 2021
Acrylics And Oil On Canvas
120 x 120 cm
AMIR H FALLAH, Time Waits For No One, 2021
Acrylic on canvas
91,5 x 91,5 cm
IVAN FORCADELL, Manu con bodegón, 2021
Mixed media on canvas
188 x 134 cm
MARGAUX HENRY-THIEULLENT, Donald est en pleiiiine Montée !, 2020
Pastel, charcoal, acrylic on canvas
215 x 130 cm
ALEXANDER JAMES, Over The Rainbow I, 2021
Oil on canvas
90 x 60 cm
LUCIA TELLO, Fetiche, 2020
Pastel on paper
35 x 25 cm
MATTHEW EGUAVOEN, A Good Day to Step Out, 2021
Acrylic and oil on canvas
130 x 100 cm
IVAN FORCADELL, 3.10.2021. I, 2021
Mixed media on cardboard
41,5 x 32 cm
MARGAUX HENRY-THIEULLENT, SOIF !! SOIF !! Le feu brûle la Caverne. Ainsi la Vérité est à l’intérieur, 2020
Pastel, acrylic, charcoal on paper
240 x 196 cm
ALEXANDER JAMES, Over The Rainbow II
Oil on canvas
150 x 100 cm
IVAN FORCADELL, Retrato con amigas, 2021
Mixed media on cardboard
48,5 x 34 cm
IVAN FORCADELL, Retrato con lluvia, 2021
Mixed media on cardboard
48,5 x 34 cm
Jonni Cheatwood (EE.UU, 1986)
Jonni Cheatwood is a Brazilian-American visual artist working across many different disciplines including painting, photography, graphic design and textile art. Cheatwood’s work describes the broad visual ideas stemming from still life, abstraction and minimalism, but his approach is a wonderful amalgam of his artistic disciplines in which veritable scraps of canvas are hand-sewn together before his idiosyncratic mark-making is thereafter applied to the newly created surface. Denim, mesh, burlap sacks, t-shirts, blankets, t-shirts, screen-prints, and even his father’s worn leather satchel have all made their way into his work at one time or another. The graffiti-like scribbles, scratches and primitive colours of Cheatwood’s work is the controlled chaotic work of an erudite expressionist brought up on Saturday morning cartoons; suggesting deconstructed contour lines and bright, unforgiving primary colours often applied directly from the tube or oversize pastel. Beginning with direct marks, squiggles and doodles, Cheatwood reacts and builds up his compositions over time, working with the studio detritus that can build up as a result of working on the floor and from the physical nature of his process – allowing this to become part of his formation of the work. The many references housed in his work – whether intentional or unintentional – seem like a patchwork of Cheatwood’s own autobiography – and the works come across like humorous albeit highly personalized recollections of his life at various times.
Matthew Eguavoen (Nigeria, 1988)
Matthew Eguavoen is a rising contemporary artist from Edo State, currently living in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. He attended the University of Port Harcourt , where he attained a Bachelors in Science for Civil Engineering and Structures. In his final year at the university of Port Harcourt, Matthew decided to pursue his passion for creating art through self-study, where he continued his artistic development.
Matthew is a full-time contemporary painter, he depicts his figurative and portrait subjects using a combination of oil paint, acrylic paint, charcoal, and graphite pencils to document stories that encompass the emotions and demeanor of his muse to the viewer of his work.
Matthew uses his work to address the societal, economic, and political views across the complex intersectionality that Nigerians face in different facets of life.
His work addresses the impact of Slavery on the Africa and its people, the extinction of African traditional values and the growing sensation of religion in Africa, importation of western moral and cultural values to Africa and exiling our own cultural values as a people. Abandoning Africa for relative greener pastures in western countries.
Matthews works are featured in collections across West Africa, USA, Europe, and North America.
Amir H Fallah (Irán, 1979)
Amir H. Fallah creates paintings, sculptures, and installations that utilize personal history as an entry point to discuss race, representation, the body, and the memories of cultures and countries left behind. Through this process, the artist’s works employ nuanced and emotive narratives that evoke an inquiry about identity, the immigrant experience, and the history of portraiture.
Fallah interrogates systems of representation embedded in the history of Western art. His ornate environments combine visual vocabularies of painting and collage with elements of installation to deconstruct material modes of identity formation. Portraits of veiled subjects capitalize on ambiguity to skillfully weave fact and fiction, while questioning how to create a portrait without representing the physicality of the sitter. While the stories that surround his subjects are deeply personal and are told through the intimate possessions they hold most dear, his work addresses generational immigrant experiences of movement, trauma, and celebration. Fallah wryly incorporates Western art historical references into paintings formally rooted in the pattern-based visual language of Islamic Art. In doing so, his paintings possess a hybridity that reflects his own background as an Iranian-American immigrant straddling cultures.
Margaux Henry-Thieullent (Francia, 1988)
Margaux Henry-Thieullent, is a French visual artist. She architect, graduated from Paris Malaquais in 2019, she shows her drawing work for the first time the same year at the DDessin fair in Paris and at the Vrrraiment Festival in Toulon.
Influenced by her architectural training, her plastic practice preserves a certain approach to drawing as a physical space to be conquered within which the artist displays bizarre perspectives that seem to absorb the viewer. Margaux is inspired by the different layers that constitute contemporary culture, from characters linked to political events to our current panorama or social networks.
Iván Forcadell (Alcanar, Tarragona, 1993)
Ivan Forcadell is a multidisciplinary artist focused on painting, sculpture, installation, and recently on video art and performance. With a carefree attitude and without forced formulas, the artist intertwines narratives of his childhood in the countryside, folklore and irony.
Forcadell graduated in Design from the EINA University of Barcelona. Forcadell has numerous national and international exhibitions, among which are: “Flux Cutting”, Foco Gallery, Lisbon (2019), “The beginning of the second act”, Lluís Coromina Foundation, Barcelona (2019), “Remedios Matamoros Fibla” , We Collect, Madrid (2019), “Primavera de Escayola”, Casa de Indias Art Center, El Puerto de Santa Maria (2020) and “Un beso, una araña y una flor ( Letters to L.B.)”, Random Space, Mahón (2021). The artist’s work has been included in renowned press such as: Harper’s Bazaar, El País ICON, Vogue Spain, El Mundo or Architectural Digest Spain, among others.
Alexander James (Reino Unido, 1993)
Patching elements of James’ past, the present and the pre-empted future, his works look to reflectively tell a story about time. James’ works manifest characters and scenarios triggered from his childhood memories and stories, projecting these into present existence.
Acting as a diary for the audience, James attempts to showcase works on paper documenting these experiences or thoughts, which are later combined and expanded to create the wider narrative of his finished canvases.
Through processes of abstraction and fragmentation, James looks to create multifaceted and vibrant works interweaving elements of memories and introspections into newly constructed realities.
Lucía Tello (Sevilla, 1996)
Lucía Tello’s work focuses on aesthetic issues that come from the contemporary female stereotype and raises a reflection on gender identity from a personal perspective.
The female gender identity, linked to the consumer society and the constant global flow of images, contains its own elements of representation that are intimately linked to specific behavior patterns and objects. The systematization of the female stereotype has undergone drastic changes in recent decades due to its diffusion through the media and advertising, whose foray into everyday life has given rise to a new mode of consumption of images; something that inevitably alters our relationship with reality. Through the appropriation of these images, female clichés are catalyzed in artistic production, which are introspectively reviewed through the aesthetics of children’s toys. The artist is interested in the toy for its visual appeal and for the values of femininity it contains. From these references recurring associations are drawn to female gender identity such as the ideal of beauty, the superficial and the decorative. These qualities are present and common in stereotypical advertising images that show us idealized life models, linked to the appearance and aesthetics of the domestic sphere.
As a result of the analysis of various sources, Lucía generates a discourse that lies between the search for the idealized common identity that has been imposed as a gender and the recognition of these forms as her own. She proposes a narrative that starts from experimentation and research with different materials, exploring their expressive and rhetorical possibilities. In this way, the work is situated in the simulation of the western canon as a conscious fiction to raise deep questions from the superficiality of the matter.