Enrique Martínez Celaya
Nothing That Is Ours
December 1, 2017 - January 14, 2018
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Fredric Snitzer Gallery presents Nothing That Is Ours, an exhibition of new works by Enrique Martínez Celaya, featuring a series of paintings and sculptures — including one large-scale outdoor installation — that consider the sea as a metaphor of both possibility and destruction. The title of the exhibition suggests estrangement, distance and indifference, and invites thoughts of possession and desire. The exhibition, on view through January 14, 2018, is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. On Thursday, December 7, 2017, the gallery will host a book signing of the artist’s most recent monograph, Martínez Celaya, Work and Documents 1990-2015.
Martínez Celaya’s practice is both influenced by and in dialogue with literature and philosophy. The new body of works featured in the exhibition continues the artist’s dual exploration of basic psychic or philosophical forces, while introducing for the first time in the artist’s oeuvre the examination of technology, presented in these works through the motif of early Cessna-style airplanes. Concerned with the capacity of painting to create and sustain meaning, Martínez Celaya considers the relationship between art and experience and, in this exhibition, problematizes the frame as it stands in relation to painting itself.
The sea, an ongoing preoccupation of the artist, serves as a source of continued reflection in this suite of new works. For Martínez Celaya, the sea at once represents migration, the fear of being lost or devoured, epic journeys, abandonment, the interior of the world of self, foreignness, and promise. The sea in these works is not only unknown but unknowable – each wave nips at what we think we know about ourselves and the world, and our paths and histories are replaced by the allure of the promises offered by the horizon.
Writing, an important part of Martínez Celaya’s practice, also figures prominently in this new body of works. Many of the paintings have annotations or texts that undermine the credibility of the images as scenes and introduce another layer of meaning. These writings, fragments of poems written by the artist, personalize the works and urge the viewer to consider the paintings as the weaving of memory. Together, the paintings and sculptures in Nothing That Is Ours at once accept sentimentality as a possible framework for experience while dismissing any intentions to understand the work as sentimental.
About Enrique Martínez Celaya
Born in Cuba and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico, Enrique Martínez Celaya is an artist and author, who during the early part of his career also worked as a physicist. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, and previously had a studio in Miami from 2010 to 2014. His work has been exhibited and collected by major institutions around the world, and he is the author of books and papers on art, poetry, philosophy, and physics. He is the first Provost Professor of Humanities and Arts at the University of Southern California. He is a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College and a Fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities.
Martínez Celaya has created projects and exhibitions for the Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg among others, as well as for institutions outside of the art world, including the Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin; the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, New York; and the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery, Berlin. Work by the artist is held in public collections internationally, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His recognition and awards also include the National Artist Award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Aspen, where he leads an advanced mentored study program each summer, and the Young Talent Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His work has been the subject of several monographic publications including Enrique Martínez Celaya, 1992–2000 (Wienand Verlag, 2001), Enrique Martínez Celaya: Working Methods (Ediciones Polígrafa, 2013), and most recently, Martínez Celaya, Work and Documents 1990–2015 (Radius Books, 2016). He is the author of several books including Collected Writings and Interviews 1990–2010 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), The Nebraska Lectures (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), On Art and Mindfulness: Notes from the Anderson Ranch (Whale & Star Press, 2015), as well as the artist book Guide (2002), which was later serialized by the magazine Works & Conversations.