Christian A. Mendoza
January 11th - February 11th 2017
Opening Reception : January 11th 6-9pm
+81 Gallery : 167 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012
Hours : Wednesday - Sunday 12-7pm
+81 Gallery New York is pleased to present an exhibition by New York-based Artist, Christian A. Mendoza.
Christian A Mendoza: Ancient Futurism
In his ink drawings, Chris Mendoza evokes the great civilizations of ancient history: Egypt, Maya, Sumeria. Executed with laser precision in free-flowing improvisation, the drawings resemble compelling and intricate blueprints to mythological worlds, incorporating humanist ideals of engineering and the strong influence of ancient glyphs, those lasting cultural shadows from vast empires that long ago lost their power.
And therein lies the duality to Mendoza’s work. With his superfine lines combined with nature references — insects, birds, fish, crystallite and stalks of vegetation are embedded within the mesmerizing latices — Mendoza hints at the fragility of humanity and its institutions, no matter how grand and structurally complex, bringing awareness to a poignant fact: Empires and all the greatness that man has wrought through engineering and technology do not last forever.
Born in Nicaragua and raised in New York City and Miami, Mendoza was heavily influenced by his father, an architect, and exposed at an early age to graffiti and hip-hop music. As a teenager in Miami, he joined the Inkheads graffiti crew and began writing on walls. After coming across the Japanese science-fiction animation series “Space Battleship Yamato,” which originally ran in the mid-1970s and references the demise of a modern empire, Imperial Japan, Mendoza embarked on developing his signature ancient futurist style. “I wanted to do my own ship ... I’m making it more ancient, like an ancient ark,” he explained a decade ago in Envisioning Diaspora (Timezone 8 Editions, 2008).
There are more than a dozen ink drawings, two pyramid canvases and three collages in “Second Nature.” A few of the larger drawings play with perspective. In one, a large gateway resembling the ancient and mysterious city of Petra is the centerpiece to an equally mythological world of small darting ships or insects, which are often the same to Mendoza. “If you look at a close-up of an insect, it’s like a weird spaceshiplike robot… And if those insects were enlarged to the size of a small helicopter, it would be intense.” (Envisioning Diaspora).
While harkening past empires, Mendoza also articulates the current conditions of the world, where modern civilizations are battling for a global stronghold. Almost moment to moment we are witnesses to shifts in the balance of power, making us perhaps more keenly aware than ever that existing powers could fade or even be extinguished. The pieces in “Second Nature” do not just present the delicate nature of life but also the transience of large communities. In this way, Mendoza’s works can be seen as imaginings of what might have been or as maps of what could be. While Mendoza does not dwell on disaster, choosing instead to construct over destroy, he does reveal all the greatness that is at stake and if we are not careful as a collective all that could be lost.
Written by Richard S. Chang
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