Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Between Land and Sea: Enrique Martínez Celaya at Jack Shainman

A sprawling metaphorical experience of interconnected shows awaits you at Jack Shainman’s two Chelsea galleries (513 West 20th Street, 524 West 24th Street), where you will meet land and sea. Artist Enrique Martínez Celaya’s first solo exhibition with the gallery comes in the form of Empires: Sea and Empires: Land, two very different, but interconnected exhibitions on either side of 23rd Street. Each include lurid painting, sculpture and mixed media works that bring Celaya’s story to life.

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Delving into the sea at the West 20th location feels a bit like exploring the unknown. Murky paintings of water give a feeling of unease, like dipping a toe into the vast ocean on beach at night- it is at once inviting, but also implies a danger of what could be out there. Even a painting of a sand castle (The Watch or the Triumph) feels ominous, confusing the eye of whether it is the handiwork of a child, or a remnant from a long passed war. Paintings of darkened pools of water are met with a sculptural bronze of a sting ray (The Deeper Life), which feels like an element from a frightening dream that is evidence that it was in fact real.

The Watch or the Triumph

The Watch or the Triumph

The Deeper Life

The Deeper Life

Empires: Land is a light shining on the truths of reality, with both painting and tactile pieces. The tower from Sea thought to be a foreboding fort reveals itself to be merely a child’s sand castle (The Believer), repeated again as a sort of glistening architectural portrait (The Castle). Celaya plants a foot further into reality with a tactile piece (The Land) made from needlepoint and velvet trim on muslin, evoking classic Americana, with imagery of “home” (and what is more grounding than home?)

The Land

The Land

The Believer

The Believer

The Castle

The Castle

Together, the two facets of the exhibition spin the viewer around between dreams and reality, floating in the abyss and shouldering the weight of the world.

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