Bleaching Our Roots
November 17, 2018 –
January 5, 2019
Leo Eguiarte’s ongoing series delves into a world of symbolism and graphic imagery, reflecting Eguiarte’s interests in signs and everyday ritual. While much of the work suggests esoterism and metaphysical states or landscapes, Eguiarte’s approach is particularly subtle, focusing on the unspoken customs that particular groups or individuals practice daily. As a kind of re-appropriation of what he sees as an already-appropriated point of view of some occultist groups and beliefs, his imagery evolves out of any concrete attachment to belief or practice, and enters into a meticulous and precise graphic world with simple vocabularies. His circuit panel series strives toward a kind of streamlined perfection: symmetrical lines, patterned dots, concentric circles, prisms and a consistently limited color scheme of magenta, pink and turquoise that allow for infinite variations on a theme.
Eguiarte was raised in Pasadena and he remembers stories he heard as a child about JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA), the Devil’s Gate gorge of Arroyo Seco and the folklore of the local Tongva tribe of the Hahamog’na region (present day Glendale and Pasadena). Far from occultist or even referencing any particular folklore or myth, Eguiarte’s works suggest a conscious evolution of common routines and customs into ethereal landscapes – a kind of observational re-imagining of the cosmos, one that playfully rests on the surface of a circuit panel. This latter point brings us to a more tangible and familiar place: computers, action figures, toys… Eguiarte is a lifelong collector of toys and figurines, however the works depart from any aesthetic of the action figure and emerge as highly developed worlds, uncanny and expansive.
Melly Trochez’s work deals specifically with rituals: activities that are passed on culturally through generations that become embedded in notions of identity. Particularly interested in observing – and often commenting on – standards of beauty in Latina culture, Trochez’s larger format acrylic paintings depict characters from her own life (sometimes even herself) participating in beautifying routines: ironing and bleaching hair, applying sunblock, mirror gazing – many rituals that become unconscious, those that we forget why we even began doing them. Comments made when we were younger, images seen during developing years, advice and critique passed down through generations become an everyday practice. Trochez is pointing at these through her depictions that carry the cultural focus to an image. In doing so, she highlights these rituals and brings them into question – a question that feels more like curiosity, or a simple noticing, rather than outward critique or commentary.
Her subjects are people she knows or images that remind her of figures in her life. The way they are depicted, however, always seems to suggest the emotion (or lack thereof) behind the action, something close to a self-reflection. A set of eyes, staring out from the painting, suggests a disconnect with the routine; as a friend prepares dye to bleach her hair, she gazes through her glasses, seemingly lost in thought or in the familiarity of the routine that she herself doesn’t question.
In her collage work, Trochez confronts a more laborious series of routines: cardboard collecting, strawberry picking, train hopping…these are activities that highlight the labor of the disenfranchised. The dynamic, textured and colorful images quickly give way to the reality of the routine: the physical labor, the precarious nature of the work, and the trauma that can become a part of activities performed to survive. This body of work pays homage to the stories of the immigrant experience. Trochez, both personally and professionally, has experienced these stories:
“I am deeply opposed to the notion of human rights deliberately being violated. I feel compelled to create the work to remind people that all human existence should be valued and hope that people in general respond to an already vulnerable population with compassion and understanding rather than racism and hate. This body of work is to encourage discussion, reflection and tolerance.”
In their first shared exhibition, Eguiarte and Trochez have chosen to collaborate on a work together throughout the course of the exhibition. By sharing the development of a single artwork as part of their exhibition, the two artists will create and confront their own ritual/s in real time in the space of the ace/121 Gallery.
- Ben Evans, ace/121 Gallery director