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FACTION Art Projects opens a vibrant and questioning new exhibition
Alexis Duque, Solares.

NEW YORK, NY.- A vibrant and questioning new exhibition, Summertime, opens at FACTION Art Projects this week. The exhibition features the works of New York artists Julio Valdez, Lina Puerta, Leeza Meksin, Adrian Kondratowicz and Alexis Duque.

The exhibition includes the varied and diverse responses to joy and sometimes stifling heat and legacy of summer. Exploring both the aesthetic of the season and the fundamental but not often visible costs summertime incurs, the works ask us to question to whom and what do we owe the joy that summer brings, from migrant workers and fruit pickers laboring in an intense summer heat, to the concern and foreboding of our changing and warming climate.

Julio Valdez’s work draws on natural elements, and the series shown in Summertime are a nod to the elemental joys of summertime, particularly in relation to water and the sea. Water, for Valdez, is a metaphor for the human spirit, and his paintings evoke the familiar sensual pleasures of summertime’s association with the sea. Valdez, who is also currently represented in the Venice Biennale as part of the Dominican Republic Pavilion, has long explored these themes in relation to the ecosystem and the gradual environmental degradation of his home country.

Leeza Meskin works in this show explore the theme of anthropocene and how human production of plastics, dyes and other harmful but highly used materials effect our environment and change how we relate to the world. A teacher at Columbia’s University School of the Arts, Meskin’s work often explores the notions of home and belonging, questioning what it means to be a "native" in a particular culture or land. Issues of migration, assimilation and forced diaspora are discussed in her work through the juxtaposition of unlikely materials and mediums.

Adrian Kondratowicz’s five dimensional painting is an exploration of superflat color and in this show is an abstraction of summer as perceived in the 5th dimension. The medium is made by creating a glaze of acrylic watercolor that dries on top of a glass surface and then a dried undersurface of acrylic, latex and enamel is peeled from the glass surface. When peeled the medium is similar to an acrylic skin and the exhibited remains pose questions about sustainability of social, spatial and economic processes. A previous project by Kondratowicz, involving designing aesthetically pleasing trash bags for Harlem, was featured in The New York Times.

Alexis Duque creates fantastical cities; microcosms that have developed along organic, planet-like clusters. They contour and wrap around themselves or seem to spring up on recognizable icons and objects such as skulls and other familiar pop culture relics. His work portrays overdevelopment, abandonment and decay where only a few inhabitants are depicted. Buildings are starting to crumble and what’s left is a human wasteland. Relics of consumerism and waste such as signs and logos such as Ford and Campbell’s soup, are juxtaposed with Buddha statues and birds. Duque’s work has previously been shown in exhibition at El Museo del Barrio.

Lina Puerta’s tapestries bring the labor of summertime into visibility, demanding us to confront the persistence of the plantation geographies as well as inequity and violence that are inseparable from the palate of summertime. In both color and materials, her tapestries are abundant, just like summertime. She combines lace, linen pulp and cotton, beads, ribbons, chains, but also butterfly wings, feathers, fur and other organic material in colors that evoke the exuberance of summertime. Puerta was recipient of the Sustainability Award at Artprize-8 in 2016.

In an essay on the show Dr Tariq Jazeel of Department of Geography, University College London, UK says:

‘In different ways, the pieces in this show celebrate the unique structure of feeling that summertime brings with it; its palette of colors, tastes, sensations, heat and light, growth, and not least the freedom from structure the summertime brings. The curatorial work of this show thus invites us into a contemplative space where our unthinking and intuitive knowledges about the summertime – the structures of feeling it precipitates – can be understood as more differentiated, more uneven, and ultimately more human processes. Summertime, this show suggests, is a living space of encounter and exchange. Reorienting ourselves in the light of the knowledge of these encounters and exchanges may just open the door to more equitable relations with distant others and with our collective environmental futures.’

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