Teresita Fernández’s seventh solo exhibition with Lehmann Maupin, coinciding with her monumental sculptural installation Fata Morgana, currently installed in Madison Square Park in New York, showcases her newest sculptural works—intimate interior landscapes in concrete, cast bronze, and highly-detailed glazed ceramic. Best known for her unique installations and immersive public projects, Fernández explores ideas of the figure in the landscape, the natural world, the extremes of scale, as well as the act of looking. Fernández’s conceptually-based, research-intensive process of art making often contains many layers of diverse cultural and historical references; she uses devices such as proportion and unconventional material to draw the viewer into her work, evoking an individualized experience of engagement that prompts questions of both place and way-finding. The artist will be present for an opening reception at the gallery on Friday, November 6 from 6-8PM.
Fernández’s newest body of work continues her exploration and interest in scale as an elastic concept, and the correlation between the immense and the intimate; the vast and the miniature; the macro and the micro. Shrinking the viewpoint in order to amplify what we see, Fernández worked with malachite mineral rocks, using imaging techniques to look at their interiors. What initiated Fernández’s interest in exploring the inside of these heavy, earth-bound materials was their uncanny likeness to the actual full-sized landscape of the Viñales Valley, an iconic and surreal landscape in rural Cuba. The artist draws parallels between her exploration of the malachite rocks and her experience of entering the elaborate cave systems in Viñales. In both situations Fernández enters a landscape both visually and physically, inhabiting extremes of darkness and light, inside and outside, containment and amplification. In her new works, images of the Viñales landscape seamlessly merge with those of the malachite rocks that originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as with the sculptural materials themselves (concrete, bronze, ceramic) that come from other landscapes, creating what Fernández considers metaphorical “stacked landscapes” with multiple layers of references to place. The central sculpture in the exhibition, Viñales (Reclining Nude), is a horizontal configuration of trapezoidal cast concrete structures of various sizes and heights with descending malachite and bronze forms that evoke the sprawling, verdant landscape from distant to close-up perspectives. As viewers engage with the full-round sculpture, the suggested landscape expands and contracts, prompting viewers to visually construct the image and become the size of what they are looking at.
The exhibition also includes three large-scale panels in glazed ceramic. The panels’ saturated greens and abstracted images are inspired by the karstic landscape of the Viñales Valley with its otherworldly mogotes (rare, limestone tower formations) and cave interiors, as well as the magnified surfaces of mineral specimens. Again, the material used here, clay, is derived from a physical earthbound location, yet used to depict an unrelated, imagined landscape, creating an accumulation of material references that redefine any conventional sense of the word “landscape,” suggesting that we are in fact, in many places at once.
Fernández has also created a series of darkened, intimately sized ink and graphite drawings mounted on wooden panels. Recalling the artist’s earlier Rorscharch pieces and echoing the natural mirroring found in the Viñales landscape, the subtle images play with darkness and distortion to further explore ideas of interior and exterior and the vast contained in the miniature.
Fata Morgana will be on view in Madison Square Park, New York through 2015. Fernández has created a series of free, public performances by dancers, musicians, and spoken-word poets intended to take place underneath the reflective surfaces of this monumental public installation. The next performance in the series, Luminous Mischief, will take place on Friday, October 30 at 6PM. Fernández will welcome internationally acclaimed choreographer Stephen Petronio and his company of dancers to activate the space of public art with an array of interactions between a citywide assembly of performers and passersby in the Park. The artist has also been commissioned by Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan, Connecticut to create a site-specific mural, Double Glass River, which was unveiled in October 2015.