These works stem from places that I’ve visited and the photographs that I have taken. The beauty, the struggle, the restless energies and indomitable landscapes are all present in the ideas that give birth to these works.
Tilcara, a village situated in a parched valley of the Andes, is a place where beauty is in the inhospitable land and where culture manages to carve out a life. Time goes by sedated, which allows customs and traditions to remind the inhabitants how to survive.
El Mollar, another landscape thick with folkloric and cultural references, is an area where the past seems to coalesce with the present.
We all have been in a landscape and turned quickly to try to catch a glimpse of activity occurring behind us, only for that glimpse to reveal nothing. Larger forces are at play in these regions and no life that inhabits these areas is naive enough to believe otherwise. Unlike the majority of this world, black and white do not exist here. Fluid greys rule the days and nights; however, all eventually finds themselves in the path of the dominant thought.
It soothes us tremendously to explain sights, sounds, and places, but we must be ready to accept landscapes where we cannot expect daily comforts…where we can willingly abandon ourselves to the paradoxical forces that construct that topography.
From windbreaks that slice through nature and stop one force from imposing its will on another; to the edge of the forest where a whole new world exists beyond; to culturally charged landscapes that evoke parallel realities where two zeppelins hover above a curious terrain; each of these are, simply put, a visual retelling of a most improbable occurrence in a completely natural environment.
Obsessed? Yeah, it definitely bordered on that. That was back in 2002/2003 when it was all I could think about. The sport mesmerized me. Retro yet oddly futuristic. Fast and simple. Traditional yet subsisting in a vacuum. In its simplest state, one on one. Beautiful. It wasn’t always like that though. I remember seeing advertisements for Jai-Alai on T.V. and in newspapers when I was younger on visits to my grandmother in Florida. I was always intrigued but it somehow faded to the back of my memory.
And then it came back in full force. I remember dragging an ex down to Florida to visit different frontons (stadiums) to take it all in. Depressing scenes. In 1975, its hay day, the Miami fronton would pack 15,000 people in to enjoy and wager on the games. Forward to 2004 and maybe 25 people, at the most, was what I would count at the games.
The paintings themselves are based off of photos that I had taken during visits to Dania Jai-Alai and Miami Jai-Alai. Painted on baltic birch, to emulate the hardwood floors of the fronton, these works are made by putting down multiple layers of acrylic paint over top of a raised image. The pieces were then sanded to allow various layers to come through and finally sealed with a high gloss varnish.
Even though Jai-Alai has faded since its glory days, the players still come to the states to show their skills and make a living. 99% of the players come from the Basque region of France and Spain which I was lucky enough to go to and watch the game played in its homeland as well as talk to one of the players. Oddly enough, as it was in 1975, the players over in Europe still aim to play in Florida. That’s where the money and fame is, with 25 people in the stands. To say they actually watch is debatable.