Alicia PAZ, Brujas y cotorras, 2006, oil, acrylic and collage on canvas, 210 x 170 cm, 82 3/4 x 67 in (DETAIL)
Babylon : New Paintings
24 November 2006 – 5 January 2007
Private View Thursday 23 November 6 – 9 pm
Houldsworth is delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Alicia Paz's paintings in London.
Paz presents a series of magnificent trees, rich in symbolism, dense and varied, which act as umbrellas to a stylistic performance taking place within their branches. She weaves a luxurious web of botanical fragments, relishing in a myriad of colours, contrasts and textures. In anthropomorphous fashion, Paz's trees talk and sing, teeming with a chattering community of parrots, neurotic women, mysterious green men, butterflies, and an assortment of ghosts. Ambiguous narratives and tongue-in-cheek fairytales hide amongst the branches. These trees of life are imbued with drunken genealogical conundrums whilst cycles of death and re-birth are evoked with humour and grace.
A piece such as Chiaro-Oscuro pronounces its witty intent, but takes on board all the skill of the style which it implies. Rendered, uncharacteristically for Paz, in a muted palette of greys and blacks, it takes the light source as its idea and then suggests the ultimate conclusion of chiaroscuro as the form of the cartoon faces which hang amongst the branches of the silhouetted tree. The broken term of the title suggests another peculiarity of Paz's work – that of her multi-cultural perspective. Mexican born, with long periods of time spent in America, France and the UK, Paz has managed to turn each culture towards the other offering a wonderland mirror – placing taste and tradition on its head. A Mexican and American experience of Japanese cartoon also feeds into the work, but to see the work as straightforwardly mixing hi and low culture is too simplistic.
Paz works with a beguiling mastery of her medium. It is from this vantage point of control and precision that she begins to unravel the history of art and with it our own histories, judgements and tastes. Complex in the extreme, her works twist our sense of artistry, by intermingling collage with trompe l'oeil. Nothing is given to us straight. Paz throws a curve ball at the viewer challenging us to change our position in order to catch it.
Paz came to prominence as part of East International at Norwich Art Gallery in 2004 and is currently part of the John Moores Prize at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. She graduated with honours from L'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris having gained her Postgraduate Diploma from Goldsmiths College, London. She has been awarded numerous prizes, grants and residencies and will have a solo exhibition in 2007 at London Metropolitan University.