Contemporary Art in the Americas Arte Contemporáneo en las Américas

Suavitel Entertainment Club & Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Radamés "Juni" Figueroa & Chloe Wilcox

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

Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Always slow, always Suavitel, 2019. Found turtle shell, feather, knives, dice, rubber snake, 2.5 x 17 x 8 inches. Image courtesy of Embajada

Chloe Wilcox, Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries (installation view) 2019. Image courtesy of Embajada

Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Suavitel Entertainment Club (installation view), 2019. Image courtesy of Embajada

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 

embajadada.com

Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Always slow, always Suavitel, 2019. Found turtle shell, feather, knives, dice, rubber snake, 2.5 x 17 x 8 inches. Image courtesy of Embajada

Chloe Wilcox, Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries (installation view) 2019. Image courtesy of Embajada

Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Suavitel Entertainment Club (installation view), 2019. Image courtesy of Embajada

Suavitel Entertainment Club

Suavitel Entertainment Club es una continuación de las reflexiones autobiográficas jocosas que Figueroa construye a través de una mezcla de referencias personales y humor crítico. Se trata de una instalación de ubicación específica que transforma la galería en un espacio de congregación social y diversión, con luces de colores, paredes color pastel, y plataformas de baile exótico que sirven también como asientos. Sobre un muro de color azul claro, Figueroa coloca una serie de pinturas pequeñas que presentan figuras indígenas precolombinas realizando posiciones de kamasutra. Esta serie representa una burla a la atención que recientemente han recibido las obras  indígenas antiguas en el arte contemporáneo. Es un contraste ante la severidad con la cual observamos y representamos estas culturas, y sirve para dar nueva vida a sus objetos.

Sobre la pared contraria se exhiben varios lienzos vibrantes, decorados con elementos característicos del lenguaje simbólico de Figueroa, que combina la contracultura y el pop. Las calaveras, las telarañas, los murciélagos, las serpientes, los payasos, los arco iris y el sexo son temas recurrentes en una constelación de imágenes donde se entremezcla el punk y la ironía. Los chistes internos y las referencias al arte y a la música incitan a una reflexión más profunda. En uno de los lienzos, Figueroa se presenta a sí mismo como una versión contemporánea del Joven Marinero de Matisse, obra del 1906. En esta iteración del 2019, Figueroa aparece luciendo un gorrito de marinero, una oscura barba incipiente, tenis Converse, una sudadera Adidas, una cadena y gafas Versace (posiblemente pirateadas), sobre las cuales asoma su mirada. Al igual que ocurre con la serie del kamasutra precolombino, Figueroa logra subvertir una imagen icónica de la historia del arte—tanto la pintura como el pintor. Se apodera pícaramente de este clásico del arte occidental, transformándolo en una representación de cultura callejera. Aunque se puede interpretar como un acto de sarcasmo, representa también un tributo a Matisse como antecesor de Figueroa e inspiración para éste, tanto por su estilo pictórico como por ser una figura que también retó las tradiciones del arte en su respectivo momento. De hecho, se logra distinguir un pequeño boceto del marinero original entre la multiplicidad de dibujos que forman el fondo de la pintura.

En la exhibición se incluyen también dos esculturas de ensamblaje, formadas de objetos encontrados yuxtapuestos. Las mismas funcionan como continuación o manifestación física del espíritu evocado en las pinturas. Los objetos, uno fabricado a base de un caparazón de tortuga, el otro a partir de un cráneo de ciervo, sugieren asociaciones con la santería. Una pintura cercana muestra un chamán contemporáneo invocando estados trascendentales y metafísicos. En el área posterior de la galería, Figueroa monta una tienda para vender mercancía alusiva a su sello emergente, Warevel Socio. En la tienda se venderán camisas diseñadas a base de su característico estilo punk, así como nuevas colaboraciones con otros artistas.

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 

embajadada.com

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