Through October 26, 2019
Complex interior and exterior worlds collide in works by Guatemalan artist Luis González Palma. Steering between portraiture and abstractions created using various photographic methods, the 19 works are culled from three series, created primarily over the last two years. About half are from the “Mobius” series, which features portraits of contemporary Guatemalans, created using analog or digital photography transferred to canvas, along with a range of other materials including acrylic paint, gold leaf, and Judea Bitumen. The latter is a naturally occurring asphalt used in early photographic processes. For “Mobius,” the title work, the artist’s pairing of early and contemporary materials reinforces the presence of intersecting histories. His use of gold leaf prompts consideration of the prevalent role of gold in Guatemala, referencing colonial-era oppression of indigenous peoples. Portraits are at once romantic and mysterious. The compositions, informed by his background in architecture and filmmaking, are simple and straightforward. Yet they convey the complexity of his subjects’ interior lives, as well as their relationship to the long trajectory of history.
Six works from the “Koan” series comprise collages created using early astronomical photographs that were taken at the first South American observatory. In “El Sol 1 (The Sun 1)” he bisects the Sun, setting the orb that long symbolized the center of the universe within geometric forms that appear to pay homage to architectural works by the ancient Mayan people who populated what has become modern Guatemala. The four examples from the “Haiku” series elevates Palma’s affinity for pure abstraction and poetics. Composites of photographic scraps, geometric collage and digital manipulation, each channels the artist’s stated preference for creating images rather than taking photographs. Taken together, these series of works pay homage to the history of photography, South American culture, and the tenuous dance between reason and emotion at the core of human experience.