Art Basel: Miami Beach

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is please to present:

Edra Soto, Hector Dionicio Mendoza, Ken Gonzales-Day

Nova, Stand N-19

Art Basel Miami Beach

Miami Beach Convention Center

December 8-10, 2023

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce our participation in Art Basel Miami Beach 2023, Nova sector, Stand N-19, with a dynamic installation of new works by Edra Soto, Hector Dionicio Mendoza, and Ken Gonzales-Day. These three Latinx artists use cultural memory as the landscape and lens through which to explore themes of race, migration, colonialism and the erasure of history, expressed through sculpture, mixed media, and photography.

The sculptural works of Hector Dionicio Mendoza, “Coyote/a” and “Hercules / El Mundo,” are informed and guided by his personal experiences and the realities and politics of the US/Mexico border.  Themes of migration and the environment as well as the geographies of place, memory, identity, and the visualization of immigrant stories are consistent throughout his work.  “Coyota/e,” in which a plywood human silhouette shelters beneath an intricately carved cardboard carapace, and “Hercules / El Mundo”, with its allusions to mythology, the challenges and hardships of migration, and speculative fiction, can be seen as a tribute to his own family and his fifth-generation curandero (shaman) grandfather.

In Latin America, the curandero/a plays an important role to many people embarking on the journey north, providing blessings and protection before they depart in search of a better life in “El Norte.”  This ancestral framework forms the foundation for Mendoza’s ambitious and expansive multimedia practice, with its surprising explorations and unconventional use of natural, organic, synthetic and recycled materials.  “Coyote/a” and “Hercules / El Mundo” were featured in the 2022 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art.

Edra Soto’s practice draws from her Puerto Rican roots to instigate conversations about history, diasporic identity, and constructed social orders. Her new work for Art Basel Miami builds on her ongoing project, GRAFT, which integrates architectural intervention and social practice. Recent iterations were presented in the Whitney Museum’s exhibition no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria and in Boston’s Central Wharf Park for Now & There.

“Sol Centro I” and “Sol Centro II” are symmetrical abstractions directly sourced from Puerto Rican rejas (wrought iron screens) commonly found throughout the archipelago. For this new work, Soto draws inspiration from altars and church centerpieces that impacted her upbringing while attending a catholic school. She places traditional devotional representations in a new context by merging residential architecture aesthetics with personal memorabilia. Her representations of rejas propose and celebrate the cultural value of the archipelago’s lower and middle class communities.

Within the decorative patterns of these works, Soto incorporates small viewfinders to which she integrates her archive of images sourced during her frequent visits to Puerto Rico. These images document the environments that inform her rejas representations — domestic scenes and family memorabilia as well as tourism advertising, local television and street propaganda — allowing visitors to engage with the work in a more intimate and deeper level. Additionally, three 12-ft (3.5m) pillars, titled Entrelazadas I, II, III, are installed at the entrance to the booth. The rejas incorporated in the pillars are painted with decorative textures commonly found in residential architecture and contrasted with luxury wood veneer, providing a solid frame to the rejas. These works investigate and make visible the relationships between Puerto Rican cultural memory, its African and Black heritage, and the threads of colonial historical lineage in the United States.

Erased Lynching Series, Set V, 2023

The images in Ken Gonzales-Day’s newest edition of Erased Lynchings, Set V (2023), are derived from appropriated lynching postcards and archival materials in which Gonzales-Day has digitally removed the victims and the ropes. This conceptual gesture is intended to direct the viewers’ attention away from the lifeless body of the victim and unto the mechanisms of the actual lynching: the crowd, the spectacle, the photographer, the site, and even the impact of flash photography upon this dismal past. In many cases, the perpetrators remain fully visible, jeering, laughing, or pulling at the air in a deadly pantomime.

The series strives to make the invisible visible and seeks to reveal that racially motivated lynching and vigilantism was a more widespread practice in the American West than was believed. In California, where the artist was born and lives, the majority of lynchings were perpetrated against Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, and more Latinos were lynched in California than were persons of any other race or ethnicity. Gonzales-Day’s Erased Lynchings have recently been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY.