Coqa/Collision: New art from Fiji
Opening Reception: Friday, October 5, 5 - 8 PM
*Includes a special live art demonstration
Exhibit on view September 29 - October 24, 2018
Fijian artist Waqa Vuidreketi explores the use of found materials and raw materials such as beeswax, tree resin, tapa cloth, and mangrove sap combined with oil pastel to reinterpret concepts of indigenous identity and the organic relationship between Pacific people and their land. He is particularly keen to explore themes such as the collision between modern and traditional values systems, perceptions of identity by young urban Fijians and addressing modern-day challenges using traditional methods of discourse, problem-solving, and knowledge. He continues to push the boundaries of his art as an indigenous expression in a constantly changing world.
Waqa delves into these issues by exploring representations of Fijian culture and religion. Waqa reinterprets and unpacks the traditional use of repetitious motifs on tapa to engage with the audience and challenge preconceived notions of indigenous identity and its representation. In particular, Waqa is interested in further understanding and exploring specific motifs printed on taunamu ni Viti, tapa used in wedding ceremonies to shield the couple from public view.
In his current practice, he experiments with materials to experience and convey a state of flux. Working in mixed media, Waqa creates a dialogue between past and present, rural and urban, traditional and contemporary. Performances involving fire, layering, and painting are informed by his personal memories, indigenous knowledge, and historical research.
Waqa was born in Suva, Fiji and now living in the village of Lomanikoro in the Rewa Province. He was a community youth worker for many years before following his passion of art making. Through working with the community, Waqa was exposed to the challenges facing our society and the environment. He has represented Fiji in the 2012 and 2016 Pacific Arts Festivals, and exhibited across Fiji and in international galleries.
El Color Musical de la Etnia y el Mestizaje
(Music and Color of Ethnic and Mestizo Identity)
Opening Reception: Friday, November 2, 5 - 8 PM
exhibit on view october 26 - november 24
Artist Arturo Martinez’s first solo exhibition is a culmination of music, culture, and ethnicity. His work reminds one of the great African American artist Romare Bearden’s artistic renderings of life, jazz, and people. Like Bearden, Martinez too praises his ethnicity and mestizaje without losing sight of the long struggle of the diverse ethnic communities of Mexico.
His geometrical compositions of C shapes, half Us curves, circles, and his nonlinear patterns flow rhythmically. A musican himself of “Son Mestizo”, Martinez roots his paintings with an African, Mestizo, and indigenous lining. Born in Tlacotzlpan Veracruz, Mexico, he captures the lyrical and the traditional in the vibrate power of its local fauna, flowers, and customs with colors that guide his inspiration like a musical note on canvas. Each painting ripples with movement and ebbs according to the color chosen. For Martinez, “music has resonance.” His approach to color is like artist Wassily Kandinsky who believed color to be like a keyboard. Martinez’s paintings have a deep inclination towards the rhythm of Latin Jazz.
The paintings of life as in his amulante (street vender) series with flower and fruit venders begin with a slight gesture of humility that starts with faith. The titled head is not a sign of submissiveness but of a ceremonial posture that builds on all the inner strength to start a new day.
By incorporating patterns from Meixco’s diverse ehtnic and indigenous plurality, Martinez exalts his recognition of the importance the artisanal artists have had in Mexico’s creative spirit. Each pattern expresses a natural deity, the cosmos and a metaphorical meaning.