Show Preview | Julio Reyes

New York, NY
Arcadia Contemporary, November 13-30

Julio Reyes, Long Shadows, oil, 13 x 24.

Julio Reyes, Long Shadows, oil, 13 x 24.

This story was featured in the November 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Arcadia Contemporary prides itself on maintaining a stable of distinctive artists—an achievement exemplified this month as the gallery presents new work by California artist Julio Reyes. Titled Vessels, the show includes more than a dozen fresh oil paintings that further cultivate Reyes’ ongoing themes of personal struggle and self-realization amid the chaos of an egocentric, materialistic, postmodern world.

Vessels opens Thursday, November 13, with a reception for the artist from 6 to 8 p.m. Described by Arcadia owner Steven Diamant as “narrative but intimate” and “always masterfully painted,” Reyes’ works feature solitary, contemplative figures within kinetically charged landscapes. Tactile and rich in tone and depth, his scenes are typically painted on aluminum and copper panels. Reyes has recently expanded his exploration of materials, though, and this month premieres several paintings on marble. Interested in extracting the inherent vitality from his surfaces, the artist chose marble not only for its durability but also to take advantage of the unique patterns and textures that add character to each piece.

Reyes selected the exhibition title after considering the impetus for his work and the ways in which universal experiences tie us together. He explains: “It restores me, in some way, to peer into the hearts of my fellow man, and to see something of my own struggles, my own frailties. I see flawed people, capable of great heroism, who struggle quietly doing what human beings have done for centuries—trying their best to find meaning in what is often a very tough world. We are broken vessels containing treasure. It’s not the story of a super-man, or the extraordinary man amongst us mortals, that moves me most; it’s the ordinary person, under extraordinary circumstances, that I love.”

Julio Reyes, Dark Waters, oil, 30 x 46.

Julio Reyes, Dark Waters, oil, 30 x 46.

Reyes’ scenes loosely reflect a contemporary culture that “breeds frustration and apathy.” Invariably pensive, and at times brooding, each of Reyes’ inward-turned figures offers an enigmatic yet intimate glimpse into his or her own journey. Darkly lush surroundings come alive amid naturalistic, expressive brushwork to reinforce the visual interplay between foreground and background, but also the deeper juxtapositions between internal and external, personal and universal. It is through such contrasts that Reyes can convey his own history and his longings to build visual and emotional connections with viewers. His oeuvre remains somewhat autobiographical, and he notes that his work “always wells up out of my own experiences.” He can then impart absolute empathy as he “consecrates” his vision.

“Arcadia Contemporary is thrilled to be presenting Julio Reyes’ second one-man exhibition of new paintings,” says Diamant. “In the tradition of great figurative painters including Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and others, 
Julio masterfully presents only part of the story to the viewer. He presents the who and where but insists that viewers project and decipher the what and why into his works. Mysterious and unsettling, Reyes’ paintings prove once again that contemporary representational painting is alive, well, and transformative.” 
—Elizabeth L. Delaney

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Featured in the November 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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