EVOCACIONES: EXHIBITION BY FEDERICO MENDOZA, Galeria De Arte, Natalia Gil, Valencia Sapin, 1-29 October 2009
Don’t be misled by the title of Federico Mendoza’s exhibition “Evocationes”. His collage-images evoke places, sometimes named in the titles such as Valencia, The Mediterranean or Alice Springs. Other titles are more descriptive. It does not take much looking to be convinced that the artist invites us on a journey of creative associations. There is no need to deny that the places or undisclosed events reside in the past or present reality. They are used as a material for creative process. Mendoza plays with the juxtaposition of images, architecture, landscape, human figure, plants, and occasional unanimated objects to provoke us viewers to our own evocations. He gives us ample visual references to set off our own journey of imagination.
Take the tree trunk with superimposed woman’s figure reproduced on the promotional material for the exhibition. There is a story, deeply rooted in European folk tradition, of the beautiful young witch, who for an unknown reason continued to rub her itchy lips on the bark of the tree. In the process the tree became partially humanised, enough to be endowed with a craving for love, but not given human flesh, and therefore destined for a life deprived of companionship.
While the images provoke evocation they can also stand for their own visual qualities. They are uneven. Mendoza’s pictures vary from quite formal still life and playful architectural composition to animated ones, with trees, arms and butterflies. They vary from audacious to light-hearted, or nearly naïve.
For me the most engaging pictures include the night city scape combined with a large human face (or mask) as well as a crude carving of human-face (or mask) positioned in a bush with the lava-red rocky cliffs in the background. The first, cityscape, evokes migration and a painful loneliness in the alien urban night. The human-face carving in the bush suggests abandonment where the face-artefact is a reminder of distant humanity, while the bush appears active and strong. But the most dynamic are the red rocks. They seem to be advancing in a powerful geological force to annihilate the bush and passive, nearly forgotten human existence.
Don’t be influenced by my readings, attempt your own. This exhibition is thought-provoking, it is prompting evocations in a non-didactic, open-ended manner. And this is to be valued in the modern world where so much slick propaganda and public relation manipulations makes us embrace all shadows of cultural or artistic pretence.
Stan Florek 30 Sep