IN THE WAKE OF JUÁREZ: THE DRAWINGS OF ALICE LEORA BRIGGS
exhibition at the University of New Mexico Art Museum, UNMAM
on view in the Clinton Adams Gallery
through May 25, 2013
The La Familia cartel exploded onto the scene in 2006 with the brutal murders of five men in Michoacán. The sign left at the scene said, “La Familia doesn’t kill for money, it doesn’t kill women, it doesn’t kill innocent people — only those who deserve to die. Everyone should know: this is divine justice.”
That a drug cartel thinks its brutal business is a form of divine justice is, to say the least, surreal. But such a contradiction gives us an idea of the kind of atmosphere that Alice Leora Briggs aims for in her portrayals of the violence in Juárez. With expressionist bravado and technical cool, Briggs’ remarkable sgraffito (literally “scratch”) drawings capture the Inferno that the city has become. Freely appropriating Renaissance prints and paintings of the Last Judgment, the Crucifixion and other martyrdoms, public executions, tortures, and wars by artists from Holbein to van der Weyden, and immersing herself in literature of Dante and Cormac McCarthy, Briggs merges old world fears with present-day realities to create a disturbing yet compelling picture of the human condition.
EVOKE Contemporary is launching a unique collaboration between artists and a cinematographer with “ARTInterludes: artist profile film series” at a preview party Friday, April 5, 2013, 5 to 7 p.m. Artist Pamela Wilson and cinematographer Carlo Zanella will attend the event at the gallery, 130 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe. They will discuss the film and be available for questions.
“These films are produced to offer the viewer an intimate glimpse into the artist's world while revealing the inspiration, process, and philosophy behind their creativity,” EVOKE director Kathrine Erickson, said. “Carlo Zanella’s creative prowess as a cinematographer and his ability to get inside the head of each artist, allows him to bring a vision to the screen that is as unique as the artists.
Southern California artist Pamela Wilson’s narrative paintings often evoke the surreal world of Federico Fellini. Zanella has created a setting for her interview that is as inventive as her paintings.
The production of the film included 14 models, a five-person production crew, and the artist. The location was in California on the picturesque private estate of Charles Schulz, the American cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Peanuts. The concept of the film was to create a Felliniesque mood bringing to life the characters from Pamela Wilson’s dreams, which are the subjects of her mysterious and sometimes dark paintings.
Fellini wrote “Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.”
“In my work, there is a tension between the real and the unreal.” Wilson explains. “I paint realistically, so you have to take the image at face value. But the content, the people in my paintings, are often called ‘lost, odd, mad, strange’ or similar terms denoting something out of alignment with ordinary reality. I believe that letting ourselves explore other realms of reality is part of what gives us heart, and balance.”
Erickson and her partner Elan Varshay have produced a second film with Zanella and the New Mexico artist Louisa McElwain. Zanella has composed a musical tribute to the artist who died not long after production was complete.
“I always want the viewer to have an experience. I want to make them unsure, and yet I want to soothe them. I want them to strap on their wings and come with me on a journey. I want them to open their minds, bring their story, and let their imagination flow freely.”
“There has always been humor amidst the darkness of Wilson’s paintings, a humor laced with a healthy dose of compassion. The characters in her paintings are ‘characters’ in many ways, reflective of the artist and reflective of ourselves.”
Santa Fe Editor
American Art Collector