Pictura Gallery

Andres Mario de Varona + Cristobal Ascencio

February 7, 2024| curatorial, gallery walk

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Curatorial Note

Is there any available language to adequately describe the internal landscape of grief? For Andres Mario de Varona and Cristobal Ascencio, the best mediums turn out to be something as ungraspable as light, and as loosely bound as disintegrating pixels. Their projects reach towards the void of loss, in hopes of finding a place where the veil between life and death is thin.

Both series in this exhibition are built from an artist’s efforts to connect with a deceased parent. De Varona works with personal relics, family members, and the mysterious properties of light to connect with his mother. In many of his images, death feels close at hand, as if it’s drifting through the silky darkness of his photographs. However, a life-sized print of an open window hints at the glimmer of healing that can be found on the other side of sorrow. Release” begins at the floor and gently rises to a window, a calm breeze in the curtain, and the daylight. The piece suggests that the artist is beginning to find his feet after the world has been swept out from under him. 

Ascencio creates a haunting virtual garden, honoring his father’s vocation as a gardener. The atmospheric realm of plants is inherently peaceful, even as it’s a kind of underworld. He uses a wide variety of media for the project, clarifying the amorphous shape of loss, by coming at its mystery from different angles. The VR world he has created mimics grief- it is like a 4th dimension, one that is felt, but physically inaccessible in waking life. For the first chapter of the work, Ascencio chose a slide projector to share his corrupted family photographs. A slideshow feels antiquated when it’s up against the allure of VR, but it’s capable of transporting in a different way, as the hum of the projector lulls viewers back in time. It may be the ideal medium to reconsider the past. 

Seeing these two artists reckoning with death, it becomes clear that it’s a deeply consuming and individual experience. Each person’s grief is their own. The wonder of both projects lies in their success at making a readable language from the pain of separation, building immersive visual worlds from the void.

See full exhibition info here.

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Pictura Kid’s Workshop

De Varona helped lead our Pictura Kids workshop with Ms.Hilary. Participants discussed the work and were inspired by De Varona’s use of light and long exposures to tell their own stories with shadow puppets.

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