The Mexico-City born artist Giovanni Garcia-Fenech disappeared for a moment there. Best-known for his expansive career in the art world, Garcia-Fenech has bounced around from Artnet to The Project and Roebling Hall to The Armory Show, up until 2010 when his artistry took its course.
His first solo-show at Postmasters Gallery in Tribeca features an impressive collection of his “New Paintings.” These never before seen works are a contemporary conglomeration of Matisse’s iconic dancing female form, Chris Ofili’s distinct silhouette paintings, and Frank Stella’s metallic cutout canvases, as seen at his Whitney retrospective. If you couldn’t guess by gazing at the ballooned nude figures, the entire series is a selection of rather exposing self-portraits.
The artist’s body is contorted into uncomfortable positions and appears as though he is literally shoved into the confines of the painting, seconds away from bursting out of the canvas. In an effort to create a series that reflected his “Self”, Garcia-Fenech didn’t use a single mirror while creating the works on display at Postmasters.
“I wanted to make work that communicated something personal rather than intellectual, something that wouldn’t protect me from embarrassment or rejection—so I decided to start painting myself. Not how I looked, but how I felt about myself and my body.”
A select group of works contain what the artist calls “Two Problems” – the black and red circles that appear next to his naked body. In particular, “08 Self Portrait with Two Problems” features the black version of Garcia-Fenech’s body resting on his microscopic genitals, atop a large red “two problem” circle. Although the described body position sounds utterly unbearable (and likely painful), the artist’s face appears emotionless. This theme of detached, minutely detailed faces partnered with large and boisterous bodies gives an enlightening look into more contemporary ideals regarding form and shape.
Postmasters’ press release boasts that the works are all “one-shot improvisations, painted directly on the canvas without preliminary sketches.” He finds inspiration from an eclectic variety of styles, including German Expressionism, 1980’s figurative painting, illuminated manuscripts, tribal art, Byzantine icons, and more. To find out more information on the show check out Postmasters Gallery or the artist’s website.
“New Paintings” will be on view at Post Master’s Gallery until January 23, 2016.
All images © Giovanni Garcia-Fenech & Postmasters Gallery