TRES – Group Exhibition
March 4, 2016 – May 1, 2016
The Jackson Junge Gallery is honored to present its next exhibition, TRES, which explores Latino identity through three unique voices. TRES unites three Latino artists –Carlos Barberena, Rolando Cruz, and Pedro Igrez – each working in three distinctively different mediums, igniting a dialogue that is both personal and universal. The exhibition opens with an artists’ reception on Friday, March 4, from 6-10PM and runs through May 1, 2016.
Too easily we forget to realize that no matter our culture we experience moments of fear and hope, self-doubt and community. On the surface, TRES is the story of three individuals’ experiences. However, it is also the story of perseverance and self-discovery that reflects not only each artists’ Latino identity, but also communicates a universal bond often shrouded by prejudices and societal stigmas.
Nicaraguan born artist, Carlos Barberena, is a self-taught printmaker based in Chicago. Barberena’s work is shown extensively in cultural centers around the world, sharing his experience to different societies (many of whom can relate with a similar history). TRES presents new works alongside a selection of linocuts from his “Años de Miedo” (Years of Fear) portfolio. “Años de Miedo is in homage to the victims of war, based on my memories and the collective historical memory of my country (Nicaragua) in the decades of the 70′s and 80′s. But, at the same time, this does not mean that it is limited geographically, because it is the reality in many countries at present. This portfolio is presented as a manner of reflection about war and its effects, and how these memories and fears affect our lives not only physically but also in psychological terms.” The “Años de Miedo” series has a visual simplicity with compositions reduced to black and white lines. But the minimalism, employed in such pieces as “Los Innocentes”, only intensifies the anguish and pain resulting from the underlying complexity portrayed.
In more recent works, Barberena demonstrates his technical skill and printmaking prowess with intricate precision. “Tonantzin” depicts a goddess representing Mother Earth flanked by honeycombs and flowers.
Rolando Cruz is a conceptual photographer who focuses on identity in the 21st century. His work opens dialogues about social, cultural, and environmental issues, inspiring people to find a personal connection in our differences.
Cruz describes his work as a reflection of reality. After moving to the United States from Mexico for educational opportunities, he faced challenges integrating into a new culture and coming to terms with his sexuality. “It’s really interesting how many people think that I am Muslim. Or I am Indian. Or that I am straight… that I am this or that…without really getting to know the person. And then they make their assumptions.” In his series “Selves”, Cruz depicts different versions of himself. Then the viewer is forced to confront themselves when arriving at the final frame: a mirror. Each portrait challenges the viewer to explore and confront our own perceptions of “identity,” and how appearances affect our prejudices. “As an advocate in my community, I hope my images showcase the struggles of identity in the 21st century as a reflection of our own internal insecurities and the ill perceived notion of belonging.”
Pedro Igrez’ work is connected to the natural essence of the world around him. Utilizing organic materials and discarded items, from wood to coffee grinds, he deconstructs imagery to evoke nostalgic memories of his hometown. Igrez grew up in a small rural community in Mexico and moved to the border, and eventually Chicago, for growth and self-discovery. Igrez remarks that, “I miss the smell of home – the wet ground, the grass – and I miss the easy living without all the pretending of the city.” A recent trip back to Mexico revealed that his hometown, built upon dirt roads and simple living, is no longer there. Instead, a small city emerged on top of his past, inspiring an urgency to capture the memories before they disappear. He recreates these fleeting memories in tangible form – such as when the community came together in autumn to work and rejoice, as seen in “Harvest.” Igrez’ work is layered in rust, dirt, and history to deliver an uplifting reclamation of his past.
TRES runs March 4, 2016 – May 1, 2016 and is curated by Assistant Gallery Director Scott Renfro.
An opening reception with the artist will be held Friday, March 4, 2016 from 6PM -10PM.