Preview: May 5, 2022
Dates: May 6–10, 2022
Lehmann Maupin is pleased to participate in TEFAF New York with an immersive, intimate installation of new work by Teresita Fernández. Comprised of four interconnected bodies of work, Night Vision, Night Watch, Nocturnal, and Lynched Land, the artist draws conceptual and material elements from past series together to create an installation that engages scale, the metaphysical, and the experiential in relation to the concept of “landscape.” For over two decades Fernández has created an expansive oeuvre that insists on a reevaluation of landscape and place to expose underlying history, culture, politics, and subject positioning. She has produced numerous monumental works around the globe that immerse viewers and challenge her audience to engage in conceptual wayfinding, including notable installations at Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan; Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA; Madison Square Park, New York, NY; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA; Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA; and the Sculpture Terrace at BAM, Brooklyn, NY.
Fernández has unapologetically confronted the genre of landscape painting through work that poetically merges historical narratives with material specificity, which is a critical and complex aspect of her practice. The raw materials Fernández uses are sourced from physical sites to create what she refers to as “stacked landscapes”—the notion that any place we occupy in fact consists of many social and historical layers, with the result that we are always occupying more than one place at once. Her expansive landscapes are simultaneously enigmatic, representational, cosmic, subterranean, and imagined, inviting viewers to experience the simultaneity of place as both timeless and as a subjective/mutable social construct. The works featured in Fernández’s TEFAF presentation utilize lump charcoal, paper, and wood—all materials that come from trees—that are burned and manipulated to create an expansive vocabulary of textures and surfaces. A main feature of the installation is the wrap-around drawing of horizontal, magenta-colored lines drawn directly onto the dark gray fabric of the booth’s walls. This optically dynamic horizon line appears to pulsate with a rising and falling effect that also functions as the connective/conceptual thread surrounding the viewer, uniting the individual works in the presentation through repeated moments of deep red and magenta, with instances of neon pink that punctuate the darkness.
The focal point of the installation is Pendent(Lynched Land), a sculptural rendition of a battered palm tree frond that hangs ominously from a hemp rope at the far end of the space. Composed of textured, hand-carved charcoal interrupted by a single neon pink thread, the sculpture imbues the installation with a somber hum, while its counterpoint, a triptych titled Night Watch, vibrates with a dense, nearly overwhelming energy. In Night Watch, Fernández sculpts raw charcoal over an alternatively reflective and opaque mirrored surface to create a sumptuously entangled, abstracted jungle that seems to collapse on itself. Tiny electric points of vivid neon pink create the disorienting feeling of being watched, while undulating slivers of the reflective surface superimpose the viewer’s own reflection amidst the foliage of the junglescape. “I’m interested in the idea that you are an extension of the landscape, that you are a part of it and it is a part of you” Fernández explains, “The landscape is never passive. You look at the landscape, but it also looks back at you.” These works evoke a reciprocal, almost confrontational sensation that implies a sense of danger and a warning about the violence enacted on numerous global landscapes and the living beings that are impacted by the relentless effects of colonial destruction—both historical and present.
Marking the entrance and exit of the space, Nocturnal(Arrival) and Nocturnal(Departure) are composed of horizontal layers of laminated charcoal, polished graphite, and pigmented magenta marks. These works anchor the installation, merging with the surrounding horizon of the booth’s wall drawing and offering a moment of openness, contemplation, and calm. The Night Vision series consists of 18 intricately detailed, small-scale collages made of paper burnt into lace-like patterns. This shift in scale from the immense to the intimate, the monumental to the miniature, is a signature element of Fernández’s work and illustrates the idea of place occurring on all scales at once. She seduces the viewer with the visual complexity of her carefully constructed concentric landscapes while surreptitiously exposing the sociopolitical violence embedded in land and power. The artist’s use of bright red, pink, and magenta throughout belies any notion of the “natural” landscape and simultaneously unifies the varied gestures throughout the installation. By elaborating on—and often manipulating—the traditional “figure in the landscape,” Fernández prompts viewers to consider their own role in our oppressive social constructs, as their gaze is reflected and distorted within the artist’s constructed landscape.