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11.12.2019

Suavitel Entertainment Club & Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Embajada & Proyectos Ultravioleta, San Juan, Puerto Rico
November 2, 2019 – December 21, 2019

Suavitel Entertainment Club

Suavitel Entertainment Club continues Figueroa’s playful autobiographical reflections through a mix of personal references and critical humor. A site specific installation transforms the gallery into a space for entertainment and social gathering with colored lights, pastel walls, and pole dancing platforms that double as benches. On a constructed pale blue wall, Figueroa presents a series of small-scale paintings depicting pre-columbian indigenous figures in kamasutra positions. In this new series Figueroa pokes fun at the recent attention given to indeginous influences in contemporary art as a way to counter the severity with which we look at these cultures.

Vibrant large scale canvases line the opposite wall, densely filled with his coded language of pop culture and rebellious symbols.  Skulls, webs, bats, snakes, clowns, rainbows and sex are recurring tropes that emphasize an ironic punk vernacular. Meanwhile inside jokes and references to art and music instigate deeper reflection. In one large canvas Figueroa portrays himself as a contemporary version of Matisse’s Young Sailor from 1906. While the gesture can be read as sarcasm, it simultaneously invites comparisons between Figueroa’s painting style and the flattened surfaces introduced by Matisse that was so avant garde at the time.

Two assemblage sculptures made from juxtaposing found objects together also appear, echoing the spirit of the paintings in 3D form.  The objects, one made with a tortoise shell, the other with a deer skull, suggest associations with santeria, while a nearby painting depicts a contemporary shaman invoking transcendental and metaphysical states. In the back of the gallery Figueroa mounts a shop for his emerging label, Warevel Socio. The shop will feature shirts made in his signature punk aesthetic as well as new collaborations with other artists.

Radamés “Juni” Figueroa (b, 1982) lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Solo exhibitions of his work include Sal Si Puedes, at Roberto Paradise Gallery, San Juan (2012). Past projects include Tree House – Club House, a live monumental sculpture at a forest in Naguabo, Puerto Rico (2013); Triangle Eucalyptus for Meditation, 43 Salon Inter-Nacional, Medellin, Colombia (2013), Salvajismo Caribeño, an intervention on the Roof of Houses in Barrio La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico (2009); and Parada “Phantom,” (Tropical Bus Stop), created in a public space in San Juan (2009). Figueroa will be included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.

Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Hahaha, what else can I say? What else can you say?

This ubiquitous exclamation and its attendant iterations are the bedrock of contemporary communication. In this day-n-age of being in touch, it is the omnipresent onomatopoeia of our constant stream of chatter. Welcome to the new Babel where everyone is saying the same thing.

Or are they? For this sonic emission—virtual, of course—has come to signify oh so much more. Indeed, hahaha is all things. First, mirth, delight, hilarity. But also despair, irony, exasperation, embarrassment, sadness, hopelessness, and rage. More often than not, the latter set trumps the former.

Perhaps more than anything, it represents a state of speechlessness, of struck-dumbness; it’s what we say when there are no words—or too many, as it were; what we’re left with when the effort to assimilate (let alone express) that which shocks or pains or bemuses is just too great. It is our greatest verbal recourse when things just stop making sense. When the going gets rough, just throw up your hands and say, HAHA!

Life really is just a bowl of cherries—glossy & dimpled—pussy, ass, cock, sperm, it’s all in there. A veritable cradle of civilization, if you will. That seems to me the real joke—the world’s best and worst joke—and the joke is on us!

Like any affirmation in the face of adversity, if you write it, read it, say it enough, you really start to feel it. The laughter really comes. The joke becomes funny. Frustration fades to joy.

As the world goes up in flames, we’ll be here laughing our heads off.

Let us chant:

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

—Chloé Wilcox 

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