ANTES is an artist-based curatorial collective run by third-year painting students and partners, Alexia McKindsey and Jose Guillermo Garcia Sierra. Garcia Sierra, who is also the financial coordinator at the VAV Gallery, revealed that ANTES has been a long time in the making.
After six months of planning, their first exhibition is around the corner and they have already begun plans for their second show, scheduled for later this spring. Contre-Sens is a collaboration with For The Sake of Analog, another student-run artist collective developed by Tyra Maria Trono and Edson Niebla Rogil. Both groups chose to highlight their fascination with traditional methods of painting and analog photography. But Contre-Sens is much more than a process-based collection of work. The exhibition presents work from the collective leaders themselves, as well as four other students with drastically different approaches to their craft.
Katherine Parthimos, currently in pursuit of her BFA in studio arts, has a much more post-modern approach to traditional painting than Garcia Sierra or McKindsey, according to Garcia Sierra. Her brush strokes are much softer and facial expressions quirkier than Garcia Sierra’s ultra-detailed, surreal work and McKindsey’s vibrant colour palette, familiar imagery and multi-dimensional style. She has also curated and exhibited in many exhibitions since 2015, including the Art Souterrain festival in 2017.
Parthimos is interested in portraying people and relationships in motion, questioning the physicality of space between them. “When dealing with the figure, I believe composition to be a key element that every artist is aware of,” explained Parthimos. “In my case, to go along with my thematic, I like over emphasizing the composition and turning the figure into shapes.” For example, in Copy Cat, to add a comedic element, essential to the artist’s playful intentions, Parthimos has lined up all of the heads on the right side of the canvas.
Her environments are active, candid spaces which are thematically similar to the work of figurative portrait artist, Emily Spooner. Much like Parthimos’s, Spooner’s work is also based on photography, a softly spoken link throughout all the pieces in this exhibition.
Painting from old family photographs, Spooner sometimes purchases used albums on eBay to shake things up. Her paintings may merge elements of multiple photographs to create a new image, or zoom in on one particular detail. Her portraits often obscure the figure’s face, leaving their expression entirely up to the viewers’ interpretation. Spooner is captivated by fleeting moments and subtle emotions of the everyday, which converses nicely with Parthimos’ collection in Contre-Sens.
“Working with photographs I have taken as reference, I then focus on altering it for painting with intensity in colour theory, placement of shapes and pattern, to make it interesting,” revealed Parthimos, whereas ANTES Co-Founder Garcia Sierra works “half and half.” “Some elements are based on images, to make sure I get the details right, while others are completely imaginary,” revealed Garcia Sierra. The artist often uses himself as a model, making lots of his paintings self-portraits, even though he doesn’t consider them as such. “They aren’t about me,” he said. “They’re about everyday absurdities, time, mechanics and engineering, chance, history, life cycles….”
Garcia Sierra is engrossed not only with astronomy and science, but also boardgames, which are all recurring elements in his work. His latest painting depicts absurd events taking place on a street corner. A lobster waits on the sidewalk and a man, pondering something that has cracked the cement street, is accompanied by a seal wearing what looks like a large watch, or perhaps this form is the man’s shadow? A plastic family van, from The Game of Life, is parked by the side of the street, and behind it are ice cream sundae mountains, which look entirely like storm clouds, with a cherry on top.
Woven in among these painters are the work of analog-abstract photographer, Irela Sara, large-scale graphic artist, Peniel Benjamin Hong, documentary-purist photographer, Trono and film production student, Rogil. Co-Founders of For The Sake of Analog, Trono and Rogil are selective when making prints of their work, ensuring they are not mass-produced. Trono’s work is surprisingly small compared to that of Hong’s, which drags on the floor of the gallery, bringing the exhibition to life and breaking away from traditional means of exhibiting 2D artwork. This is a theme that both collectives intend to emphasise in their spring show, which will aim to break down painting and photography as strictly 2D concepts.
Contre-Sens will be exhibiting at Atelier Galerie 2112 until Feb. 8. Their vernissage is on Friday, Feb. 1 from 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. Follow @ANTES and @forthesakeofanalog on Facebook and @an.t.e.s and @forthesakeofanalog on Instagram.
Feature photo courtesy of ANTES.