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Enrique Martinez Celaya
Kohn Gallery, Hollywood, California
Recommendation by Andy Brumer


Enrique Martinez Celaya, "The Tears of Things" installation view, 2019 at Kohn Gallery, Hollywood, California. Photo: Karl Puchlik, courtesy the artist and Kohn Gallery

Through November 1, 2019

In “The Tears of Things” Enrique Martinez Celaya displays a sophisticated and seamless blend of technical mastery, Romantic imagination and imagery, and a tender yet sturdy depth of feeling that has kept him on the art world’s international stage. In a brief conversation with this writer, and without elaboration, Martinez Celaya pointed out that the show’s title comes from a line extracted from the ancient Roman poet Virgil’s epic work, "The Aeneid.” Indeed, viewers are greeted outside of the gallery’s door by a large bronze sculpture, “The Well,” a painted white head and torso of a young woman. Pumped water flows fountain-like from each eye, emblazoning the eroding tracks of her tears into two patina-brushed channels of the bronze below. Inside the galleries we are surrounded by a dreamlike world of colorful, mesmerizing, mythic landscapes and emotionally-fluid mixed-media narrative paintings. In each of them one finds visual markers that will resurface alluringly and slightly transformed throughout the show.

Martinez Celaya, who also holds a master’s degree in Physics, spins this inter-contextualized visual strategy into a gyroscopic visual field or maze that guides the eye from one piece after another, building connections along the way. For example, “The Virtue,” a northern scene done in black, white and grey oil paint and wax on canvas, presents an existential figure skating across an icy landscape. Some twenty feet away stands the starkly carved wooden sculpture of another skater. Titled “The Token of Exile,” this Munch-like featureless totem of silent anguish huddles inwardly, watching as his two-dimensional doppelganger in paint skates gracefully by.

In “The Faithful” a voluminous tear-like moon illuminates in pale hues an earth-bound garden of surreal flowers that it presides over. “The Inventory” reintroduces similarly painted flowers. This time the plants bloom from the limbs of a piece of boney white driftwood set on a beach amidst the pastel hues and soft expressive brushstrokes of the ocean’s sky. Rarely does emotion and intellect wed themselves in individual works as successfully as they do here. That these paintings and objects also forge a strategic and dynamic intra-visual field only enhances the show’s intriguing stimulation and sensual pleasure.


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