featured gallery for July 2009

Writing Pictures

When I was invited to curate a show for the Visual AIDS Web Gallery, I didn't know the Frank Moore Archive would be so vast and so inspiring. It's an outstanding art archive and a revealing resource for any art historian.

The documentation and research of the work of such a large number of artists is an admiring task that Visual AIDS has been developing for years, and these Web Gallery exhibitions allow the public to approach this material from many different points of view, proving the complexity and diversity of this archive and the relevant contribution of all these artists. My research of it made me consider a number of possible shows on which I worked simultaneously. Only at the very end, I chose this one, but it could have been a completely different show.

"Writing Pictures" is an exhibition based on the fusion between visual arts and writing. Looking at the archive it is quite evident the interest of many of the artists to incorporate words into their artworks, no matter what the medium -- painting, drawing, sculpture or photography -- and using it as an artistic visual tool as much as a conceptual one. This project brings together a selection of 20 works by 20 different artists that integrate the depth of the word and the strength of the visual to reinforce the exploration of very diverse issues: social and political, love, intimacy, sexuality, identity, ethics, health, mythology, aesthetics, childhood, death, memory, the body, nature and the sublime, among others. All these works give form to multifaceted realities and intimate experiences, while they blur the border between life and art, taking us from the personal to the universal.

The richness of the Frank Moore Archive guided me to choose just one work by each artist, and to select images presented for the first time in this Web Gallery. The artists represented in "Writing Pictures" are Stephen Andrews, Barton Lidice Benes, Copy Berg, Jose Luis Cortes, H. Alan Cheung, Joe DeHoyos, Robert Farber, Naj Hasoni, horea, Frank H. Jump, Samuel F. Lewis, Nancer LeMoins, John Morrison, Kurt Reynolds,Juan Rivera, Michael Slocum, Steed Taylor, Paul Thek, Frederick Weston and David Wojnarowicz.

In these works art and language have diluted their habitual positions, and words play a decisive structural role as much as an emotional one. It's even difficult to say sometimes which one is serving the other, because they seem to be looking for their boundaries and for the naked truth. Both have merged their frontiers, transforming the language into something physical and testifying the tensions between the essential gesture of the visual and the solid transparency of the word. In some pieces this alliance lies on poetic metaphors, while in others the approach has a more pure narrative grounding. However, in both cases, the images are often open to different significances and multisided. Even when some of these works don't renounce irony and humor, they are also rooted in conflicting emotions that conjure up pain, loss or solitude in favor of life.

My most sincere gratitude to Amy and Nelson for their invitation and great kindness, and for giving to me this enriching experience of getting to know more deeply this relevant art archive.