Parafin is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by the acclaimed Cuban-American artist Enrique Martínez Celaya (born Cuba, 1964). This is Martínez Celaya’s first exhibition in London since 2010 and follows on from recent museum shows at Site Santa Fe (2013), the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2012), and the Miami Art Museum (2012). Much of the work in the show was made during Martínez Celaya’s recent residency at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, as Montgomery Fellow.
Working in a variety of media including painting, sculpture and installation, Martínez Celaya has in the last decade created an extensive body of work characterised by allusive complexity. Using simple compositions and quasi-archetypal images — including the sea, boats, animals and birds, children, landscapes and symbols of domesticity such as chairs and tables — Martínez Celaya blends fantasy, reality and memory to create a poetic world that is both semi-autobiographical and resonantly universal. His work forms an open-ended search for meaning and significance, proceeding from the personal to the public. Eschewing narrative and conventional interpretation Martínez Celaya’s work thereby creates a matrix of rich conceptual possibilities and a striking openness to personal readings.
A recurring motif in this new body of work is the suitcase. A container for personal possessions and important artifacts, the suitcase is a signifier for a journey undertaken. Here, suitcases seemingly contain the vastness of the night sky, but also become building blocks for sculptural structures. Another classical symbol of journeying is the boat. In one of the most striking paintings in ‘The Seaman’s Crop’ we see a young boy at the edge of the sea contemplating a skate lying on the sand. One might be tempted to impose a narrative upon such images but Martínez Celaya’s intention is instead to create a resonant area of possibility, where we each bring our own readings to the piece. Martínez Celaya’s endeavour in developing this body of work is to craft a visual poem of strong emotional, philosophical and psychological resonance.
Enrique Martínez Celaya trained as an artist and physicist. He earned a BS in Applied & Engineering Physics from Cornell University, a MS in Quantum Electronics from University of California Berkeley and a MFA in Painting from University of California, Santa Barbara. Martínez Celaya’s work has been exhibited internationally and works are included in many private and public collections including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. In 2010 his Collected Writings and Interviews 1990-2010, was published by the University of Nebraska Press.