Enrique Martínez Celaya

Here To Kneel, Voyagers

June 15th –
September 8th, 2024
Venezia
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Leading Light,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    183 x 152 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Inertia of Embarking,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    152 x 127 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Traveler’s Bounty,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    152 x 127 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Never Made,2024
    Charcoal and pastel on paper
    100 x 71 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Novice Hunter,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    183 x 152 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The One Who Made His Way Home,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    183 x 152 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Vocation,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    183 x 152 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Grand Excursion,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    190 x 208 cm
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya
    The Sweetest Sound of All,2024
    Oil, wax, and charcoal on canvas
    190 x 208 cm

Patricia Low is delighted to announce a solo exhibition of new work by LA-based artist Enrique Martínez Celaya at Patricia Low Contemporary, Venice, the artist’s first with the gallery. Titled Here To Kneel, Voyagers, the show brings together nine works integrating nuanced observations of transitory experiences with enduring, universal concerns, such as redemption, memory, time, myth, and nature. The paintings on view bring together complete and incomplete parts, where painted figurative details and images of nature coexist with sketchily drawn seas, architectural references, words, or lines of poetry. The show’s poetic title, with its invocation to surrender, conveys the particular vulnerability and sense of humility that attends displacement, whether from one’s home, one’s culture, or oneself in the present moment. It also references, along with certain symbols and allusions found in the works – a lion, water – the show’s location in Venice, a city synonymous with seafaring and transit. Long a touchstone in Martínez Celaya‘s work, the sea features in these new works in the form of boats, a conch, and coral fronds turned into candelabras. Coinciding with the 60th Venice Biennale Foreigners Everywhere, Martínez Celaya‘s exhibition explores the notion of foreignness as a psychic as well as physical state.

Painted on canvas drop cloths, linen, and paper, the works continue the artist’s long-held quest to reconcile word and image, where fragmentary forms and lines of poetry have equal footing. In each, the ground is drawn in charcoal and sealed, and these grounds collide rather than cooperate with the painted elements. Text may or may not be visible, but each is conceived as a visual poem. In one of the paintings, The Leading Light, from 2024, a charcoal seascape is seen through a clutch of outsize yellow flowers, a bird seemingly perched on one of their stems. An enigmatic line of text that may or may not allude to the artist’s native Cuba – “You and I are disappearing but plantains are holding on” – is partially obscured by a radiant star, the script faded in parts like the frayed edges of a memory. In another, The Vocation, also 2024, a segmented lion occupies most of the canvas, its constituent parts placed at slightly skewed angles, behind which are the knotted branches of a tree in charcoal. Floating among these elements is a collection of colourful geometric shapes that gesture, forlornly, towards a sense of order and which occur in several other paintings. Elsewhere, figures appear painted or in shadowy charcoal, variously holding symbolic items, or pictured in ambiguous situations. In his conflicting, captivating fragments, Martínez Celaya relays the extraordinary conditions of a reality whose brightness in the moment renders it simultaneously unreal.

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Enrique Martínez Celaya (b. 1964, Havana) lives and works in Los Angeles. He holds an MFA in Painting and Sculpture from the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as an MS in Quantum Electronics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Applied and Engineering Physics from Cornell University. Between 1976 and 1979 he was a painter’s apprentice. He is Provost Professor of Humanities and Arts at the University of Southern California, and a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College. Notable projects and exhibitions include the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., the Museo Marino Marini, Florence, the Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, and the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, among many others. His work is held in 60 public collections internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In April 2024, Martínez Celaya opened The Word-Shimmering Sea at the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in New York, an immersive interaction with Diego Velázquez’s painting Portrait of a Little Girl (ca. 1638–42), which is on view through to July 14th 2024. In June 2024, he opened The Grief of Almost at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is on view through April 6th 2025.

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