Ellen C. Caldwell. “Ken Gonzales-Day at Luis De Jesus.”
New American Paintings, 17 Dec. 2012, Los Angeles.
“Ken Gonzales-Day’s recent show, “Profiled | Hang Trees | Portraits,” at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is deeply rich and intellectually challenging. A well-established artist and researcher, Gonzales-Day challenges his viewers and the way in which we as a country remember…
…In this show, the gallery combined three of the artist’s ongoing series, as indicated by the trio of titles “Profiled | Hang Trees | Portraits.” In the photos displayed from Hang Trees, he photographs trees that were once used for lynching in California. Directly across from these trees is the Portrait series, displaying portraits of three Latino men, whose age and ethnicity match that of the men who were lynched from the trees facing them. Representing a part of American history that most Americans are often quick to forget (due to a complex layer of reasons: cultural amnesia, a lack of ownership, shame, sadness, anger, and also the tendency to bury history), these trees bore witness to hate crimes, torture, and corporal punishment.
In these photographs, Gonzales-Day presents large trees with twisted roots, interwoven branches, and thick, established trunks, all indicating their age and wisdom of the years. Large landscape photography is his medium, yet there is something palpable and weighted in these landscapes, leaving the viewer feeling empty, alone, and heavy. His photos capture scenes of stillness, echoing the history held in these remote places. The land holds the history—just as on the coasts of Normandy and Peleliu. Something about the beauty of a place is juxtaposed quietly and undermined by the atrocities and horror that once occurred there..”
Source: New American Paintings