On view this month at Lehmann Maupin in New York, the gallery welcomes New York City-based artist Teresita Fernández to curate a group show for the summer season, bringing together works by Francheska Alcántara, Carolina Caycedo, Adriana Corral, David Antonio Cruz, Kira Dominguez Hultgren, Leslie Martinez, Glendalys Medina, Jeffrey Meris, and Esteban Ramón Pérez. Engaging various degrees of abstraction, the works in the show are united by each artist’s focus on materiality, process, and tactility.
The title Eyes of the Skin references Juhani Pallasmaa’s 1996 book by the same name, in which Pallasmaa argues that contemporary aesthetics has placed too strong a priority on vision to the detriment of our other senses. Pushing back against the dominance of the eye and the biased hierarchies of visual art history, this exhibition focuses on “the role of the body as the locus of perception,” and emphasizes the importance of indigenous, intuitive, and somatic knowledge as a primary source for understanding our world. Acknowledging that touching is a way of knowing, Eyes of the Skin privileges the mysterious but indelible knowledge we acquire from our personal experience with matter and the intelligence inherent to materials themselves.
The over 20 works included in this exhibition highlight tactility and physicality, and bear witness to the intimate, psychic, and emotional relationship developed between each artist and their chosen materials. By tracing their intricate actions, we are able to feel our way through these works, unlocking a deeper understanding of how each was made by accessing our own bodily memory of tactile experiences. For each artist, however, this sensorial knowledge takes a deeper, more complex form, unraveling personal mythologies and layering nuanced socio- political content within the rituals of their creative practices. Artists have a unique understanding of their work gleaned from the introspective, iterative reciprocity they have with their materials, and in turn, the materials themselves carry their own potent cultural histories, life force, and ideas. In these works, art making is revealed to be a subtle, poetic dialogue between artist and material that resists explanation, and evidence of the artist’s moving hand and body can be seen throughout the exhibition, subtly revealing the dynamic and interactive process of making and the physicality, timing, and trajectory it so often involves.
Emphasizing the physical nature of the art object through a focus on sculpture and sculptural processes inherent even in the more painterly works in the show, Eyes of the Skin compels viewers to move beyond the initial, composite image of each object and to explore the discrete elements that comprise the piece. Abstract and deeply complex, each work in the exhibition not only contains layers of the personal and the intimate, but also holds powerful political content woven within, revealed only through careful and purposeful engagement. As the exhibition title suggests, the best way in is through the eyes of the skin. The works invite viewers to go beyond representational images and to instead participate in an experiential and somatic understanding of each artist’s private practice.
The show closes August 12th.
– C. Rhinehardt
Eyes of the Skin [Exhibition Site]