Juan Miguel Palacios, "Wounded" Solo Show at Lazarides Gallery Rathbone

Empathy is hard to get by these days, especially if you live in the city. Take Los Angeles for instance, one of the biggest city in the US; a budding metropolis — where three million people (including myself) live. This city is known to give migrant dreamers, from different parts of the world, opportunity to take a chance into unfamiliar land and wonder if they got what it takes to make it. It is a ruthless city with people of much apathy; a dog-eat-dog type of world that has so much wounded stories to share. That’s what this show at Lazarides is all about — wounded.

Juan Miguel Palacios is a Spanish born artist who moved to New York. His art is all about emotions and it is in this migration to a dynamic city that resulted a body of work that he will show at Lazarides Rathbone.

Wounded is Juan Miguel’s thorough observation of people living in what he calls ‘dynamic cities’ where he sees the resigned, exhausted, and deeply tired from coping up with all the luxuries of life. He has portrayed these people beautifully, as their face were raised, eyes closed, resting in for tomorrow’s next sorrowful routine then it fades out into the flat, white, broken-down dry wall — punched through and slightly burned.

Juan Miguel was able to capture astonishing portraits by empathy. And, that is important. I have had the chance to interview him and grasp a sense of his artistry. Read on.

Interview by Mark Changco.
Art by Juan Miguel Palacios.

Wounds I

Do you think empathy is an important character to be an artist? Why?

As an artist, one of the things that interest me most are human beings and the things that concern them. Both individually and socially. As a figurative artist, my inspirations and references come more from the outside world than from the interior. At this time, I am not interested in expressing my moods or the states of my mind, but what happens out there.

One of the things I was most drawn to when I moved to NY was the diversity and the racial and cultural richness. Such an amalgam of individuals was presented to me with incredible beauty, so I started as a daily task, to walk around aimlessly the streets, with the sole intention to observe people. At first glance, everything comes up in an extraordinary way, as if everyone was living the expected dream, bars full of beautiful people, drinking with friends, laughing; living a lavish lifestyle. Stores full of people happily shopping. I might never finish describing the spectacle before my eyes. But after a while, I started to discover the miseries of this great city. After that look of extremely happiness and pleasure, I began to see what lies behind it. Both NY and other major cities are very complex and hard universes, where everything happens at a great speed and where you never can lower your guard.

Working 10 hours daily to pay the ridiculously excessive level of living. Fleeting and transient relationships to fill our void of solitude… so many adversities to handle every single day. The life experiences that are inevitably reflected everyone’s faces. I began to feel, after that first laughter, that a serious and sad countenance appeared. Behind friendly behaviors, another aggressive one quickly appears. Trains full of tired faces returning from work and not offering their seats to the elderly…

Obviously, this is life itself. But my feeling is that here, in cities like this, all those life experiences multiply. All those life experiences are that I like to call “wounds.” Wounds that slowly deteriorate us.

When did you start experimenting with non-traditional mediums? What did you use for this show?

I think I’ve always been interested in finding new forms of representation. Back in the day, I use to experiment with different mediums such as video and photography but now what interests me the most is painting. The figuration, as a plastic language, is very much reviled and sometimes I think it is because it is always the same. It becomes tedious. That is why I have always been interested in discovering new ways of representing and communicating.

Around 12/13 years ago, trying to look for more depth in my works I was painting over different transparent layers of varnish and polyester resins as surfaces. As a classical glaze but much thicker. The results were really interesting, but the problem was that the layers were attached and it could never be changed. From there, I started working on separated layers which when superimposed it generated a 3D reality. They were like sculptures but made with paint. The materials that I was using for that were plexiglass and glass sheets, but the extreme weight and fragility of both materials took me to find solutions. It was then that I found and started working with vinyl as a surface. Because of the transparency, versatility, weight and flexibility of this material, that is why I still love it.

Wounds III

For the “Wounds” series, I introduced the drywall, to emphasize the dramatic character of what I wanted to communicate. Somehow, I wanted to express all the social burden we carry. I wanted to show how all those “wounds” make up our character and our way of being. The drywall, like a wall, is a strong and hard element but subjected to constant aggressions, it ends up breaking. Moreover, from my point of view, there is a great beauty in the way it breaks in the same way that we break ourselves.

In this way, the drywall metaphorically represents our interior and the transparent vinyl, where I paint the faces, represents our physical identity. The exterior. 

What will be your favorite piece in the show? Why?

The truth is that I always find it very difficult to choose a piece as my favorite. What I like is the set of them. I usually work in series and what I like is to see how they work together. It is the interesting thing about an exhibition. It is the best way to understand the meaning behind and see how the paintings interact

Wounds XIII

“Wounded” will open on June 23, 2017 and will continue to run until July 22, 2017. For more information about the works, email: celeste.weatherhead@lazinc.com

Lazarides Gallery
11 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia,
London W1T 1HR, UK

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