Carnal Masquerade @ IPRAC
Paintings by Santiago Flores-Charneco
The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture is opening a new art exhibitMascarada Carnal/Carnal Masquerade, featuring ten large scale paintings by Puerto Rican artist Santiago Flores-Charneco, a recent grant recipient from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, in New York, as part of their program for support and recognition of artists whose creative production is of exceptional quality. The work of Flores-Charneco is characterized by the fragmentation of the canvas, manually sewing pieces of paintings over which, on occasions he also integrates the glossy element of the sequin. The subject matter of these paintings is the carnival, which is manifested not only in the paintings’ display of vivid colors and throbbing flesh, but also in the disarticulation of stances that music and dance provoke, in unison, a sensual unleashing of rhythmic orgies. The exhibition will be open until August 23, 2013 at the main gallery of IPRAC, located in Humboldt Park, at 3015 W. Division Street, in Chicago. For more information please call (773) 486-8345, or fax: (773) 486-8806.
Flesh and color burst in abundance out of these ten paintings by Santiago Flores-Charneco. Both elements are paramount and not by mere coincidence to the celebration of carnival, to which this Puerto Rican artist has decided to pay a vibrant visual tribute through this recent series of works. For, in these works, such an outburst is not a simple, casual metaphor. It becomes manifest not only in the paintings’ display of vivid color and throbbing flesh, but also in the disarticulation of stances that music and dance provoke, and which generate, in unison, a sensual unleashing of rhythmic orgies. Such outburst also permeates the materials and the composition that form these works; created and recreated by the untiring artist, the paintings are made up of cut-out fragments from other paintings, which Flores joins by means of sewing, as if putting together a pictorial jigsaw puzzle. The streams of paint, the circles of impasto and the glitter of the sequins build the work upon itself in a continuous process, thus erasing the antagonistic essence between the fragments and the finished work.
Through the paintings that make up this series, Santiago Flores-Charneco once again takes up and culminates a creative process and the formulation of a visual lexicon that span a few decades. Painting and sewing be it of pieces of fabric or beads a practice that links him to the tradition of popular arts and crafts) furnish his production with an enormously tactile richness and a lavishness that Puerto Rican art often lacks. In regard to Flores-Charneco, the delayed abstractionism he has practiced thus far begins to fade as he now introduces his work to latent, figurative references, with traces of masks of traditional Puerto Rican cabezudos and vejigantes, and with a true display of playful eroticism through the use of the human figure. Appearance and delusion take on a vital role in this pictorial masquerade, as well. Imbued with the liberty that carnival festivities grant, the figures that stir their bodies to the rhythm of the son in carnival parades unleash their unbridled passions, shielded in the anonymity of their sketched faces.
The life force that these paintings radiate, along with the apparent creative swiftness of the artist, conceal the technical scrupulousness and determination of someone who works with the outmost precision and care. Nothing in these works by Flores-Charneco is the product of randomness; not the feverish motion, nor the dislodged figures or the exuberant chaos of color in which they bathe. They are all inescapable elements of carnival, that carnival that stems from ancient African and Caribbean tradition, and which now flows into this Puerto Rican dance troupe. / Laura Bravo, Ph.D.