This body of work corresponds to and is an extension of the show I am currently in at Soda Arts by LEICHT Seattle with Iris Guy Sofer (303 Occidental, Seattle, 98101). Titled "A Few Good Years in New York" it features the work I made during the early years of the Covid pandemic.
The work reflects my fear and dismay after having moved to Brooklyn just weeks before the shut-down. I was in my favorite place but unable to enjoy it, suddenly. Without a place to do encaustic paintings or access to my Chelsea ceramic studio, I began working on paper in an apartment. Slowly I began feeling better, but many of the works were very dark. The first ones had black ink poured and pulled across the entire painting, which felt like the heavy blanket that had formed over society, with not only the Covid situation, but also the rampant racism going on and the murder of George Floyd.
To lift my spirits during the lock-down, I spent weeks studying the deep sea and bioluminescence. Later I made the dark Prussian blue encaustics with lighter hues melted in, which reference jellies and the types of fish that lose their eyes or become translucent with the lack of light in the deep crevices of the ocean. It was an awe inspiring bit of learning that renewed my appreciation for all things biological, and made me feel like the ocean, at least, had a grip on how to sustain life as an environment.
Soon I was able to do all the work I wanted. I was fortunate enough to spend that summer at the great Judy Pfaff's art compound in Upstate New York working in her huge barn with encaustic artist Michael David as the first two participants in their artist residency. This is where I developed most of the sculptural works made of clay and finished in encaustic. They reference the body - whether human, sea life, or made up bodies of creatures. The wax surfaces emulate the look of skin at times when they bloom (bloom is a film that occurs naturally on the encaustic surface unless polished), and the VENTER series are about bellies, cavernous, concave or otherwise.
Now back in Seattle, I've had a chance to look at all the work together, and they seem to be having a conversation. The sculptural works, with their bone-like and sometimes pelvic or torso-like references, speak to the 'monsters' made with ink, and the encaustic 'sea creatures' add a voice with a nod to the power of the sea, and all that is unknown and sometimes frighteningly foreign.
All the works seem to encompass my experiences for the past 3 years, which were exciting, frustrating, lonely, educational, filled with art making and art viewing, and of course, social distancing. I even began using color again, and the pink pieces speak, again, to the body - tissues and delicacy, a lighter bit of mark making after 2 years of uncertainty.
Because I don't make realism, these experiences are expressed abstractly with a touch of humor, wonder, dismay, curiosity, intentional awkwardness, and an unsettled feeling about the future.
Contact me at [email protected] or 206.227.5332 if you'd like to see the work in person.
Juan Alonso Studio: 306 S. Washington Street, Studio 104, Seattle, WA. 98104