Rafael Ferrer: Recent Work
David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Recent Work, a solo exhibition by Rafael Ferrer. Rafael Ferrer’s long and prolific career has garnered recognition from arenas as diffused as Surrealism, process art and New Image painting. Astute at locating and engaging the dynamic fountainhead of artistic practice relevant to time and place, in one installation, Ferrer nurtures a powerful tributary of faces rendered on paper bags in crayon, pencil, paint and collage: an extant, sui generis body of work that the artist has cultivated since 1972. The temptation to localize Ferrer’s artworks within schools of thought has created interstitial spaces through which these paper bag pieces freely flow. Lushly evolved since their germinal exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (1972), Ferrer’s new installation consists of dozens of paper bag works.
At a time when object-orientated ontologies and material and spatial turns have interrogated the arts and humanities, Ferrer presents the steadfast complexity of human integrity. Far from a Ptolemaic revivalism, Ferrer’s insistence upon drawing reveals an evolving ecology of human and nonhuman; tangible and virtual, organic and technological; practice and theory for which there exists no center. Indeed, Ferrer’s works on paper may be understood as gestures rather than images. Deleuze and Guattari acknowledge that, while flesh is “competent in revealing sensation,” it is ultimately adept at just that: a revelation, a “thermometer of a becoming.”
Viewing Ferrer’s works as embodied gesture acknowledges their radical departure from depiction. Ferrer’s dedication to drawing in a jamboree of affective expression and material honesty attempts to close the gap between being and telling and strategizes a reconciliation between the vitality of human experience and the contemporary network culture to which it necessarily signals. The image becomes the gesture, and Ferrer’s nearly sixty years of artistic practice becomes a crucial zeitgeist. In addition to the exhibition’s focus on the artist’s recent works on paper, Empire’s Mirror (2012) is an intense work examining the historical and interpreting the current state of the artist’s birthplace, Puerto Rico. The piece is composed of 95 blackboard paintings and incorporates his punditry, which rests on the grandiose insistence that in humor lays truth.
Rafael Ferrer was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and lives and works in Greenport, New York. In 2013, the artist’s work will be included in Re-making When Attitudes Become Form, curated by Germano Celant for the Fondazione Prada, at Ca’ Corner della Regina, Venice, Italy from May – November, 2013. The 1969 exhibition was originally curated by Harald Szeemann at the Kunsthalle Bern. Among his museum exhibitions and book releases in 2012 is Rafael Ferrer, a monograph on the artist by Deborah Cullen. In 2010, Ferrer’s survey exhibition Retro/Active opened at El Museo del Barrio, New York which received important reviews in the New York Times by Roberta Smith,The Nation by Barry Schwabsky, and ArtNexus by Luis Camnitzer, among many others. The artist’s work has been included in numerous museum solo exhibitions including the ICA Boston; MCA Chicago; ICA Philadelphia; Whitney Museum of American Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art, and many others. His work is in the permanent collections of public institutions such as Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; The Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN; Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany; Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; Museo de Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico; Pasadena Museum, Pasadena, CA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, and others. Ferrer participated in important exhibitions of the new wave of conceptual, postminimal, process-oriented and “antiform” art in 1969 including Op Losse Schroeven (Square Pegs in Round Holes) at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materialsat the Whitney Museum of American Art. The following year, Ferrer’s work was included in the seminal exhibition Information at the Museum of Modern Art, NY.