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ARCO Madrid 2019

Sección Opening, curada por Ilaria Gianni y Stefani Hessler

Artistas: Quisqueya Henríquez y Pepe Mar


For ARCOmadrid 2019, Santo Domingo-based artist-run space Sindicato presents works by Quisqueya Henriquez and Pepe Mar alongside collaborations by both artists. 

In their distinct bodies of work, Henriquez and Mar resist and renegotiate the surface and material of the picture plane as it has long been understood across the history of art. Canvas takes on new meaning in these pieces, where it is pierced, cut apart, extended, or replaced in transformative interventions that nod towards the visual vocabularies of formal abstraction, popular culture, alternative subcultures, and fashion. Positioned at the foundation of their respective practices, the redefined canvas becomes a catalyst for new ways of experiencing the two-dimensionality of the painting surface. 


Within the aegis of Henriquez’ Spiked series, the works on view each feature surfaces adorned with spikes of varying shapes and colors laid in geometric formations. Evoking the legacy of post-minimalism, these works weave historical threads between the transgressive and countercultural origins of the spike and its more recent adoption into the consumer tastes of luxury fashion brands. In his canonical 1979 book Sub- culture: The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige looks towards the mainstreaming of marginal subcultures within popular culture at-large. Subcultures often develop distinct styles and practices that outline a sepa- rate identity which subverts the dominant culture, and Hebdige treats transgressive fashion as a visual form of resistance or activism. Here, Henriquez looks to the spike as a signifier of shifting cultural landscapes and visual meaning: where once it stood as an anti-establishment symbol in the 1970s and 80s, the spike has now given way to high fashion. 


Pepe Mar extends this conversation between the canvas, style, and the popularization of subcultural iconographies. In his latest body of work, Mar constructs bold, large-scale canvas works that are collaged from custom fabrics printed with images of his past works. Mining his own 15-year career, Mar turns towards the history of his artistic output as a resource to reference, reconsider, and redefine in new pictorial contexts. For Mar, the canvas becomes a portal across time; a tool which extends his work both physically and figuratively. Layered among his self-references are those to a larger discourse surrounding the history of exhibition practice, art history, and the queer club scene of the last thirty years. In their joint works, Henriquez lays spikes across the pastiche surfaces of Mar’s fabric collages, bringing to bear a new body of work that visually quotes present and past, fashion and activism, and redefinitions of the flat plane of the canvas. 


Claudia Mattos

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