An Index of Histories
David Castillo presents An Index of Histories, the fifth solo exhibition at the gallery by Quisqueya Henríquez.
Spanning the trajectory of Henríquez’s practice over the last decade, the exhibition traces the artist’s intertextual explorations of history, meaning, and form: methods she deploys for reclaiming and restoring narratives often excluded from the art historical canon. Henríquez has long approached her work as a platform for unearthing, questioning, and unraveling dominant strains of representation, constructing unexpected and playful compositions from familiar imagery, elements, and tropes. An Index of Histories is a meditation on the artist’s ongoing formal experiments: an endeavor spanning from her early practice into the present that strives to imagine a visual language particular to the peripheries of Latin America and the Caribbean, one that both rejects and embraces the prevailing influences imported into these regions from former centers of the art world.
Reflexivity is central to Henríquez’s practice wherein she makes use of found imagery—often borrowed from the work of art historical masters or art history’s overlooked figures—to recombine into new contexts. In Carmen Herrera Inside Popova (2013), the artist overlays a pattern derived from a design by Russian avant-gardist Lyubov Popova with a framed copy of a crumpled reproduction of a work by Carmen Herrera, the Cuban-American abstract painter. By extension, Henríquez plays with this history as a material, bringing together these iconic and visually related practices in ways not seen prior, and engaging in a revisioning that acknowledges the exclusion these two artists often face in favor of their male counterparts in the narratives of Modern art. She inserts herself into this visual dialogue, claiming a space within it as an inheritor of this history.
Henríquez explores the inherent materiality of objects as ways to play with and take pleasure from the visual tropes of the art historical canon. In Note to Self (2021), the artist creates a composition evocative of Constructivism and Minimalism from painted and deconstructed perfume boxes. The effect is subtle—were the use of perfume boxes undisclosed, the origin of these forms would be undetectable—but it infuses a geometric playfulness to what are often staid and restrained Modernist aesthetics. She deploys technology, and its inherent qualities and limitations, to similar ends. In The Breuer Building (2011), the artist presents a photocopied image of the iconic interior of the Upper East Side space, a residual artifact that bears the visual banding evident of repeated copies and printings.
Themes of repetition, facsimile, and reflection have long recurred throughout Henríquez’s work, and she makes direct allusion to them in Forever and Color Alert 1 and 2 (all 2019). The mirrored surfaces of these works reflect a distorted, colored reality back to the viewer, visually reframing the world: the overarching modus operandi of Henríquez’s practice. These pieces as well invert the relationship between canvas and frame. The mirrored surface—the framework—becomes the picture plane, reflective of reality, and the soft materiality of the canvas encloses the work as a frame that extends the possibilities of the canvas into our reality.
An Index of Histories layers the visual modes and means of Henríquez’s work and the questions she poses visually, thematically, and materially in her practice: Who creates our histories? For whom? And to what ends? Her practice, citational as it is, ultimately serves as a method and platform of research, play, and experimentation for new mechanisms of understanding the history we inherit and reflect.
Quisqueya Henríquez (b. 1966, Havana, Cuba) earned degrees from the Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana, Cuba and the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museo Fernándo Peña Defilló, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY, and many others. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Portland Museum of Art; Perez Art Museum Miami; Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, NY; El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba; the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL, and others. Henríquez’s works are included in the permanent collections of UBS, New York, NY; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY; Cintas Foundation, New York, NY; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Perez Art Museum Miami, and many others. She lives and works in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.