Gavlak Palm Beach is pleased to present, The Awakening, an exhibition of new work by Florida-based Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.). This is the artist’s third solo show with the gallery and coincides with his widely received and deeply impactful, Krome: Faces of Detention, at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (September 22, 2016 – January 8, 2017). In contrast to his austere and dignified ink portraits at the museum, his new body of work seeks to explore themes of truth, compassion, and consciousness.
Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.) began his career nearly twenty years ago as a performance artist channeling a fictitious 2,000 year-old spirit, Carlos, in large public arenas. Imitating a spiritual guide, his performances catered to viewers who sought to explore, or debunk, the basic human experience––the longing to communicate with an alternate dimension or higher power. These performances were the subject of video work presented in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Decades later, Alvarez’s work has taken the form of intricately composed collages created from naturally-occurring materials in combination his own unique renderings of organic forms and figures.
Among the works on view, “The Awakening” collages are composed of multilayered media including mica, porcupine quills, feathers, glass beads, and mineral crystals. Alvarez establishes his own richly painted landscape within a formal construct of repeating pattern and pulsating color. His use of unconventional mediums to meticulously craft swirling, exploding compositions puts him in context alongside Fred Tomaselli, whose work also alludes to the sublimation of mind, alternative dimensions of time and space, or perhaps hallucinogenic drugs. Vibrant, neon colors paired with a detailed arrangement of recurring forms and textures evoke scopophilia, a sensation similar to that which one might experience in a Yayoi Kusama “infinity nest.”
The patient, meditative quality of the artist’s practice reaches its zenith in the two circular reliefs, or “tondos,” that become assuaging topographical landscapes for the mind to transcend. The mica and mineral crystal panels allow a brief pause from labyrinthine collages. The artist painstakingly layers thinly sliced leafs of natural mica stone until he achieves a lustrous manifestation. Alvarez references the repetitive layering in his work as similar to a chant or mantra in which both he and the viewer are encouraged to enter and get lost.
The formally adopting radiance of Alvarez’s work acts as a metaphor for clarity, consciousness, and inner effulgence, grounded in a strongly held belief that we are all one. Though the drawings in his Krome series exist as starkly different depictions of his oeuvre, they evoke that same awareness: the ability to recognize our true selves in another human being. Alvarez commented on his fellow inmates in a recent NPR interview stating, “A lot of them have that gaze. A quiet desperation, I guess. Waiting to see what was going to be their fate.” In his drawings Alvarez absorbs the quiet gaze head on, portraying the frowning sitters with eyes wide open and unyielding: a mirror for humanity.
Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.) was born in Venezuela and lives and works in South Florida. The artist recently exhibited at Gavlak Los Angeles in the fall of 2015 with an immersive solo show We’re All Made of Star Stuff. Alvarez has been the subject of solo exhibitions at The Kitchen, New York and the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Florida. He has also been included in notable group exhibitions including Cosmic Wonder, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California; Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s, the San Antionio Museum of Art; Beauty Reigns, McNay Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Akron Museum, Akron, Ohio; and Altered States, The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2014, the documentary film, An Honest Liar, was released to international acclaim, telling the story of the artist and his spouse.
A reception will be held for the artist on Saturday, November 26th at GAVLAK Palm Beach.
For more information concerning the exhibition, please contact Jeremy Lyon at 561-833-0583 or Jeremy@gavlakgallery.com.