Latin American Masters, Santa Monica, California
Recommendation by Daniella Walsh/Bill Lasarow
Continuing through July 13, 2013
Fernando de Szyszlo's treatment of space evokes dream chambers or tombs which he populates with richly composed forms suggestive of the human figure, but also alludes to animals and hybrids of both. They are the artist's distinctive version of wandering spirits, full of supernatural, even demonic presence, as in the canine "Trashumante." Born in Peru to a Polish father and a Peruvian mother, he freely mixes both strands of his ancestral lore into something that is distinctively his own. Even though he occasionally and passionately references landscapes, de Szyszlo gravitates to rooms, interpretations of ancient burial chambers occupied with his creatures and filled with the implicit presence of mysterious elements that we feel but do not see. De Szyszlo disciplines spaces to exude this visceral presence, and we instinctively follow his lead.
"La Muerte y La Doncella (Death and the Maiden)" references Ariel Dorfman's ambiguous tragedy of the layers of abuse - political, sexual and psychological, which itself draws on Franz Schubert's profound musical reflection on death and despair. De Szyszlo's visual vocabulary adds enriching layers of ancient lore in fashioning the fierce totemic figures that confront one another in an interior. One poised within the room blocks the light of the doorway, the other stands immediately outside a large open window, blocking the sun there as well. A single piece of furniture, a table or desk, feels animate enough to be the neutral witness to a confrontation that feels like it is about to erupt. De Szyszlo's deployment of color along with his application of light and shadow are wonderfully dramatic, even melodramatic. Deep reds, purples, blues, shades of charcoal and blue are essential to both the narrative of conflict and physical depth. This is a supercharged visual encounter