Lehmann Maupin returns to Frieze London with a presentation of works by gallery artists Teresita Fernández, Calida Rawles, and Cecilia Vicuña, who each explore the complex, sensory relationships between spirituality, humanity, and our environment. Spanning a variety of media, including installation, sculpture, paintings, drawing and film, this presentation invites the viewer to consider connections between individuals and collectivity, landscape and lived experience, material and concept, mind and body.
Central to the presentation is a selection of work by Cecilia Vicuña, whose commission at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall will open to the public on October 11. Presented here is Vicuña’s Caracol Azul (Blue Snail) (2017), a wool sculpture that cascades across the floor as it unspools from a tightly wound center into a vibrant, larger-than-life version of its namesake. Unspun wool is a vital, enduring component of Vicuña’s decades-long practice, and the artist has noted that in the Andes, unspun wool is considered a sacred material. The raw, unadulterated material, before it is touched by humans, represents the cosmos from which all life originated and holds much creative potential. Characteristic of Vicuña’s practice, the work carefully examines the specificities of materials, their culturally charged associations, and their relationship to our ecosystem. Vicuña considers the Blue Snail’s train a symbolic (and perhaps hopeful) story or poem that describes a world where humans place primary importance on the planet and all life forms.
As testament to the breadth of her practice, the presentation also includes a selection of Vicuña’s paintings, films, and a group of Precarios–intimately scaled sculptures made of found environmental materials that pay tribute to the sacredness of land and the perilousness of being. In addition to her presentation at the Tate, Vicuña’s work is currently on view in the 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams; and was recently on view in a major solo exhibition entitled Spin Spin Triangulene at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
In connection with her solo exhibition at our London gallery, Teresita Fernández’s work Archipelago(Cervix) (2020) is presented as part of Indra’s Net, a section of the fair curated by Sandhini Poddar, Adjunct Curator at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Indra’s Net is a term that refers to an ethics of being in which a single atom contains the structure of reality. The concept has its roots in Buddhist and Hindu thought, and for Poddar, it connotes a network where “every part is held within the whole in a system of dependent origination.” A wall sculpture made of solid charcoal and composed of all the individual island shapes of the Caribbean archipelago reimagined as a continuous landmass, Fernández’s Archipelago(Cervix) resembles a portal—or cervix. The work alludes to the female body and the reproductive violence women of the Caribbean region have endured at the hands of imperial power, a legacy which continues to this day in U.S. immigration detention centers. Fernández’s incorporation of burned wood poetically draws a connection between the unspoken abuse inflicted on both the land and on women’s bodies, and Archipelago(Cervix) unapologetically visualizes the catastrophic legacy of colonization, acting as a metaphor for the enduring injustice, ecological destruction, and systemic oppression witnessed in the Caribbean.
In addition to Archipelago(Cervix), the booth features two of Fernández’s new panels made from solid charcoal on reflective panels, Dark Earth(Silver Moon) and Dark Earth(Aurora) (both 2022). Part of her ongoing Dark Earth series, in which the artist transforms thousands of delicate slivers of raw charcoal into meticulously assembled relief images that suggest an expansive idea of place–from the ancient, historical, and subterranean to the futuristic and cosmic. Imagined as vertical cross-sections that span from underground geologic layers to heavenly realms, the works reveal bodies of subterranean water, invisible to the eye—embedded into the charcoal ground. Fernández has said “landscape is more about what you don’t see than what you do see,” and her deep consideration of landscape unapologetically plunges deep into the buried, often omitted or erased colonial violence that continues to shape our present-day perceptions of the people and places around us.
Debuting at the fair is a series of pastel works by Calida Rawles, marking the artist’s return to one of her earliest mediums. These works continue Rawles’ exploration of water as both a multifaceted physical material and a historically charged space for Black bodies. Through the Hysteria, Mine, and To What End (all 2022) depict female bodies partially submerged in exquisitely rendered submarine landscapes. Rawles employs water as a medium, metaphor, and method of abstraction, allowing the vistas of bubbles, ripples, refracted light, and expanses of blue and green both distort her figures and connect her subjects to one another.
In these particular works, Rawles responds to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and expresses desire for bodily autonomy. As the artist states, “I did heed the warnings, but still found myself in shock when Roe v. Wade was officially overturned. That shock ricocheted between fear and anger until I decided to make something out of it… I can’t say my anger subsided through the work nor have I accepted our state of affairs. However, I do feel more connected to something larger than myself… a cause. A cause rooted in my audacity to believe that I should have agency over my own body.”