FACTION Art Project's new exhibition explores the joys and sorrows of summertime

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • July 18, 2019

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Julio Valdes, Dreaming Boy III


July 27– August 24, 2019

FACTION Art Projects @ Gallery 8

2602 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York City. NY 10030

A vibrant and questioning new exhibition, Summertime,opens at FACTION Art Projects this week. The exhibition features the works of New York artists Julio Valdez, Lina Puerta, Leeza Meksin, Adrian Kondratowicz and Alexis Duque.

The exhibition includes the varied and diverse responses to joy and sometimes stifling heat and legacy of summer. Exploring both the aesthetic of the season and the fundamental but not often visible costs summertime incurs, the works ask us to question to whom and what do we owe the joy that summer brings, from migrant workers and fruit pickers laboring in an intense summer heat, to the concern and foreboding of our changing and warming climate.

Lina Puerta, Tomato Crop Picker

Julio Valdez’s work draws on natural elements, and the series shown in Summertimeare a nod to the elemental joys of summertime, particularly in relation to water and the sea. Water, for Valdez, is a metaphor for the human spirit, and his paintings evoke the familiar sensual pleasures of summertime’s association with the sea. Valdez, who is also currently represented in the Venice Biennale as part of the Dominican Republic Pavilion, has long explored these themes in relation to the ecosystem and the gradual environmental degradation of his home country.

Leeza Meskin works in this show explore the theme of anthropocene and how human production of plastics, dyes and other harmful but highly used materials effect our environment and change how we relate to the world. A teacher at Columbia’s University School of the Arts, Meskin’s work often explores the notions of home and belonging, questioning what it means to be a "native" in a particular culture or land. Issues of migration, assimilation and forced diaspora are discussed in her work through the juxtaposition of unlikely materials and mediums.

Adrian Kondratowicz’s five dimensional paintingis an exploration of superflat color and in this show is an abstraction of summer as perceived in the 5th dimension. The medium is made by creating a glaze of acrylic watercolor that dries on top of a glass surface and then a dried undersurface of acrylic, latex and enamel is peeled from the glass surface. When peeled the medium is similar to an acrylic skin and the exhibited remains pose questions about sustainability of social, spatial and economic processes. A previous project by Kondratowicz, involving designing aesthetically pleasing trash bags for Harlem, was featured in The New York Times.

Alexis Duquecreates fantastical cities; microcosms that have developed along organic, planet-like clusters. They contour and wrap around themselves or seem to spring up on recognizable icons and objects such as skulls and other familiar pop culture relics. His work portrays overdevelopment, abandonment and decay where only a few inhabitants are depicted. Buildings are starting to crumble and what’s left is a human wasteland. Relics of consumerism and waste such as signs and logos such as Ford and Campbell’s soup, are juxtaposed with Buddha statues and birds. Duque’s work has previously been shown in exhibition at El Museo del Barrio.

Leeza Meskin, Packing

Lina Puerta’s tapestries bring the labor of summertime into visibility, demanding us to confront the persistence of the plantation geographies as well as inequity and violence that are inseparable from the palate of summertime. In both color and materials, her tapestries are abundant, just like summertime. She combines lace, linen pulp and cotton, beads, ribbons, chains, but also butterfly wings, feathers, fur and other organic material in colors that evoke the exuberance of summertime. Puerta was recipient of the Sustainability Award at Artprize-8 in 2016.

In an essay on the show Dr Tariq Jazeel of Department of Geography, University College London, UK says:

‘In different ways, the pieces in this show celebrate the unique structure of feeling that summertime brings with it; its palette of colors, tastes, sensations, heat and light, growth, and not least the freedom from structure the summertime brings. The curatorial work of this show thus invites us into a contemplative space where our unthinking and intuitive knowledges about the summertime – the structures of feeling it precipitates – can be understood as more differentiated, more uneven, and ultimately more human processes. Summertime, this show suggests, is a living space of encounter and exchange. Reorienting ourselves in the light of the knowledge of these encounters and exchanges may just open the door to more equitable relations with distant others and with our collective environmental futures.’

Notes to Editors:

About the artists:

Julio Valdez

Julio Valdez is a painter, printmaker, teacher and mixed installation artist whose work has been exhibited internationally since 1984. He received a fellowship from the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop in 1994 and founded Julio Valdez Studio, specializing in Non-toxic Contemporary Printmaking processes. Valdez has presented twenty-five solo exhibitions. In addition, he received his first museum exhibition at the Omar Rayo Museum in Colombia in 1988. His work received prizes at the 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998 national biennials at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo, as well as numerous prestigious international awards, including an Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City in 1997-98, the Silver Palette for Painting at the XXX International Painting Festival, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France in 1998, the Grand Prize at the XVII E. Leon Jimenez Biennal in the Dominican Republic in 2000, among others.


Leeza Meskin

Leeza Meksin is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist working inpainting, installation, public art and multiples. Her work investigates (the often false) binaries of male/female, hard/soft, public/private, and highlights parallels between conventions of painting, architecture and our bodies. Meksin has created site-specific installations for The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM),
Brooklyn (2018-19), The National Academy of Design, NYC (2018), The Lenfest Center for the Arts, NYC (2017), The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City (2016), The Kitchen, NYC (2015), BRIC Media Arts, Brooklyn (2015), Brandeis University (2014), and in a
National Endowment for the Arts funded project in New Haven, CT for Artspace (2012). She is the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist grant (2015) and in 2013 co-founded Ortega y Gasset Projects, an artist-run gallery and curatorial collective in Brooklyn, NY. In
2015 Meksin was appointed to the faculty at Columbia University School of the Arts. Meksin has been awarded residencies at The Banff Centre for the Arts (2017), Sugar Hill Studio Program (2017-19) and The Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX (2019). She is currently working on a large scale commission for the de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum to create a site-specific temporary sculpture for 2019-2020.


Lina Puerta 

Lina Puerta examines the relationship between nature and the body. She utilizes a wide variety of materials in her sculpture — concrete, clay, resin, wood, foam, fabric, artificial plants, paper pulp and handmade paper; craft and recycled items. With these materials she creates textural forms and compositions that blend the human-made world with the natural, exploring notions of control, consumerism and life's fragility. Puerta (born in NJ and raised in Colombia) lives and works in New York City. She holds an MS in Art Education from Queens College/CUNY and is recipient of several residencies and grants including: the 2017 NYFA Fellowship, 2016 Dieu Donné Workspace Residency, Artprize-8 Sustainability Award, 2015 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant, 2015 Kohler Arts Industry Residency (WI), 2014-15 Keyholder Residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, 2013-14 Smack Mellon Art Studio Program, 2014 Materials for the Arts, 2013 Wave Hill Winter Workspace and the 2010 Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park in New York. Exhibition venues include: The Ford Foundation Gallery, The 8th Floor, El Museo del Barrio, Socrates Sculpture Park, Wave Hill, Geary, NYC and Pi-Artworks in London. Puerta's work has been written about in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, Wilder Quarterly and Artnet News among others.


Alexis Duque

Imaginatively charting the psychological experience of space, Alexis Duque produces paintings and drawings of buildings and domestic interiors stacked and conglomerated into trippy, absurd mounds and towers. With a psychedelic precision reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s, Duque uses perspectival tricks and surrealistic overlapping to render dozens of skyscrapers as a single red tower; or homes, living rooms, train tracks, and alleys as a mass on the verge of collapsing into itself like a black hole. Alexis Duque holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Antioquia, Colombia. His work has been exhibited in numerous venues including: at El Museo del Barrio, The Drawing Center and Praxis International Gallery in New York; The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach, CA; Champion Contemporary, Austin, TX; The Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland, MI; RudolfV Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands and  Galleri Oxholm in Copenhagen, Denmark. Duque’s work has been featured in several publications, including: "Imagine Architecture: Artistic Visions Of The Urban Realm”, “Caribbean: Together Apart Contemporary Artists from (part of) the Caribbean" Imago Mundi - Luciano Benetton, Blue Canvas Magazine, LandEscape Art review, Beautiful Decay, Artistaday, New American Paintings, Studio Visit Magazine, The East Hampton Star, The East Hampton Press and El Diario of New York. Duque currently lives and works in NYC.


Adrian Kondratowicz

Adrian Kondratowicz has worked in Harlem for the last 15 years. His work explores form and distribution of culture through a multidisciplinary studio practice that combines philosophy and aesthetics. He creatively engineers power objects and systems that connect the viewer to new positions on image, experience, and consciousness. 

About FACTION Art Projects:

FACTION is a flexible collective that addresses the changing market place and the erosion of the traditional art market, where galleries were gatekeepers for artists. FACTION provides artists with promotion and opportunity to access collectors and a wider audience, with all the support of a gallery but without the constraints of the traditional model. They aim to deliver a programme of artists that is diverse and inclusive. FACTION launched in February 2018, and since then has become strongly embedded in the Striver’s Row community and a highlight of Harlem’s cultural scene.

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