Retrato de un Artista / Portrait of an Artist: Adrián S. Bará, Ana Mazzei, ASMA, Carlos H. Matos, Manuela de Laborde x Luis Orozco Madero, Manuela García, Lucas Cantú, Rodrigo Hernández, Ximena Garrido-Lecca

24 September - 14 November 2022



Your picture is still
On my wall, on my wall
The colors are bright
Bright as ever
Daniel Johnston

Portrait of an Artist / Portrait of an Artist is the first exhibition in PEANA’s new space in Mexico City with the participation of Adrián S. Bará, Ana Mazzei, ASMA, Carlos H. Matos, Manuela de Laborde in collaboration with Luis Orozco Madero, Manuela García, Lucas Cantú, Rodrigo Hernández and Ximena Garrido-Lecca. Each artist presents a different strategy that responds to the concept of the portrait, linked to the space and its architecture. By definition, Portrait, means to retract or to bring something from the past into the present - like a memory - in order to describe a person or a place. The exhibition seeks to break down the portrait format and to rethink it from a new standpoint.


In the lobby, Portrait of an Artist welcomes us, a film commissioned from Manuela de Laborde in which she has documented the practice of the artists in the show, from an abstract perspective, including their peripheries, work space, and scraps. This film is projected on a wall-door that separates the lobby from the gallery, defying the horizontal format of the cinema and activating a physical interaction with the “screen”. At the same time, it plays a mediating role as a possible room text reduced to subtitles and developed in collaboration with Luis Orozco Madreo.


Responding to natural light and space, Manuela García's diptych portrays one of the gallery's architectural elements: the original windows on the façade and its vegetation. After mounting the photographs on racks, they were encapsulated in encaustic, a preparation based on beeswax. This veil preserves its real scale and suggests approaching the exhibition as a subject that is aware and observes itself.


ASMA’s Fantasy 3000 is a chain made up of a variety of charms - small figures in metal and silver plating. In its center, a rough butterfly sculpture, which is also a reliquary that keeps a purple agate stone. This collection portrays an imaginary entity -perhaps an ogre- and its encounters: frogs, masks, starfish, snails, booties... the diverse cast of his life, narrating its fantastic story.


In the center of the gallery is an installation by Ana Mazzei, a group of structures that are part painting, part sculpture, part set design, and together they form a kind of cast. These fragmented elements activate us as spectators before a possible staging, an area of ​​recurring interest in Mazzei's practice. The figures refer to the corporal and to the possible choreographies of a human body in space and landscape.


The intervention of Adrian S. Bará, Music for Changes / Music for Changes, painted indigo on drywall, poses a temporary tension between the ancestral practice of dyeing based on the Jiquilite plant, to obtain the indigo color, and the prefabricated plaster panel , of daily use in contemporary architecture. On this support, his large-format drawing suggests a bodily and choreographic gesture but also musical and urban graphics.


Carlos H. Matos, whose practice is rooted in architecture, offers us a crayon abstraction of a human face. Portrait of a relative, refers to a modernist cubism (bubblism?), is the result of a process whose purpose was different. Originally this plywood panel was used to trace and sketch sculptural volumes that he would later produce in clay. Like reverse engineering, what initially had a three-dimensional character gradually revealed itself as a two-dimensional subject.


Ximena Garrido-Lecca embodies and portrays the Peruvian myth of the god Illapa in an installation. In it, the Inca deity of lightning, thunder and rain is represented with broken pitchers rebuilt with a tin kintsugi technique of sorts, which in turn connects LED light tubes and a solar cell for lighting. This installation that synthesizes an ancient belief with the use of current technology, portrays the magnitude of a god as the personification of a meteorological phenomenon.


The Unfolded Portrait of Rodrigo Hernández shows us multiple faces of a human figure in nine panels of translucent resin. Is it a self-portrait, or a universal abstraction? The figure confronts us head-on, looks to both sides, looks at itself. Like a portrait that expands and returns your attention to what is around you.


An exercise in attention is present in Lucas Cantú's Llama Ahora / Call Now, an electromechanical bell at the entrance to the gallery. Its three buttons arranged in a triangular shape detonate different sound sequences. The translating instrument of this call, located inside, is a hybrid sculpture, installation and artifact, made of glass bells and an aluminum mechanism. On the one hand, it has a utilitarian purpose that announces one's arrival, but it also seeks that in the emission of sound and light, it is a call to register one's presence.


Although the portrait alludes to past moments, the pieces that make up Retrato de un artista / Portrait of an Artist seek, through nostalgia, memory, fiction and

echo, to evoke a state of stillness and contemplation, to situate ourselves here, in space,

observing, being part.


Ana Castella