Sergio Suárez: Fuego Nuevo at whitespace, Atlanta

By December 08, 2022
Installation image of white hanging square with black and white etching on top, depicts ambiguous figures in a wilderness scene under the night sky.
Sergio Suárez, The Interpreters, 2022, woodcut matrix POR print hydrocal, edition of five, 72 x 72 inches. Image by Mike Jensen and courtesy of whitespace.

Sergio Suárez’s exhibition Fuego Nuevo at whitespace is a treasure chest full of ceramics, woodcuts, and sculptures that rewards an adventurous viewer.

Fuego Nuevo scatters artworks throughout the space, using far more than the white walls of the gallery. With artworks to be found underneath the walls, high up, and sitting on the floor, viewers who are willing to stand on tiptoes and crouch down will find riches waiting for them everywhere. One particularly lovely artwork places a video piece on the other side of a hole bored through one of the brick walls so that it can only be viewed by peering closely through this peep hole. The use of the entire gallery space to present the artworks creates a sense of excitement, encouraging viewers to search for the art and in doing so, causing them to look more attentively than if only the walls themselves had been solely used.

Installation View of Sergio Suárez: Fuego Nuevo, featuring from left to right: Moment of Suspension, 2022, mixed media installation, and Immanence, 2022, woodcut print on muslin, charcoal, chalk pastel, and aluminum, 23 x 30 inches. Image by Mike Jensen and courtesy of whitespace.

At times, this scattering of artworks does feel hectic. Many of the wall-mounted artworks feature sculptural elements resting atop them which, in the case of Lighthouse (2022), is a coppery flame. The woodcut it rests upon depicts a seascape and large obelisk rising from the sea—intending the sculpted flame to be read as an illuminating guide for the lighthouse in the sea. The inclusion of the flame here felt like a natural continuation of the artwork imagery and seamless narrative throughout the showcase. However, the sculptural element atop Invocar la noche (To Invoke The Night) (2022) did not read the same. This artwork depicts two abstracted figures lying amidst a loosely rendered landscape featuring foliage and a small body of water, and the accompanying sculpture is a black flame. Here, the flame does not have an apparent connection to the imagery found in the composition, and reads as an unnecessary attempt to further drive home the exhibition title of Fuego Nuevo. Further, the poorly stretched muslin of Invocar la noche (To Invoke The Night) and the raw plywood construction of the large, multistep custom pedestal in the same room gave the artworks an unfinished feel and unpleasantly distracted  from the exploration of the exhibition.

The encouragement to search and find throughout the exhibition was further granted within each of the individual artworks. The exhibition features a relative dearth of color, choosing instead to focus on a palette of grayscale, terracotta, beige and silver. What little painting exists was rendered within this palette, creating a chromatically concise exhibition. This restriction on color lent to more space for an exploration of mark-making and texture. Looking closely at artworks such as A place I often remember (2021), the variety and density of marks used to create, even a small woodcut, can be discerned. Or, when looking closely at Immanence (2022), the interplay of different media becomes even more fascinating. Walking around the space, I regularly found myself standing in somewhat awkward positions and holding myself there to absorb every detail, an experience I found engaging and pleasantly comical. Fuego Nuevo asks visitors to extend themselves, energy which is invested and remunerated in earnest.

Installation View of Sergio Suárez: Fuego Nuevo, featuring from left to right: all the fires, the fire, 2022, steel, marble soapstone, tezontle, and ceramic on wooden pedestal, 70 x 35 x 7 inches; The inner mystery as true as the mystery sleeping the surface, 2021, woodcut matrix POR print, edition of six, 10.5 x 12 inches; and Orbita Celeste II, 2022, woodcut on hydrocal, 16 x 12 inches. Image by Mike Jensen and courtesy of whitespace.

Sergio Suárez: Fuego Nuevo is on view at whitespace in Atlanta, GA through December 31, 2022.

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