Colombian Artist Exhibits at Island’s New Pop-Up Gallery

Written by Dana Agmon. Posted in Volume 37, Issue 3 - October 8, 2016

Urbanism and consumerism collide in a new exhibit by Colombian artist Alexis Duque, opening October 13 at the Paul Calendrillo New York Gallery at 507 Main Street.

A working artist for two decades, Duque earned his BFA from the University of Antioquia in Colombia, and trained at the Art Students League in New York. Although he says his art has been influenced by many different experiences, he acknowledges being shaped by the Magic Realism movement of Latin American art and by artists like Frida Kahlo, as well as Mexican muralists that combine figurative style and social dimension in their works.

“My paintings depict imaginary cities inspired by slums and shanty-towns of developing countries, overflowed with consumer goods, as well as by nature, in an uncontrollable growth and accumulation of waste,” says Duque. “My work explores the chaotic and unavoidable processes of urbanization in our globalized and overpopulated world, corroded with consumerism.”

Duque has been exploring the theme of architecture and slums in his art for the past decade, but writes, “[It] has always interested me since my college years.”

Gallery owner Paul Calendrillo says he sees, in Duque, a kind of profoundness that comes from Duque’s Colombian roots.

“It has become clear that, although the subject on the surface can be lively, funny or uplifting,” says Calendrillo, “the underlying architectural renderings that comprise each work represent the deterioration of communities. Very few people are depicted. Mostly structures you would find in Colombia.”

Calendrillo and Duque had met several times at art openings, but it wasn’t until they became friends on Facebook that Calendrillo says he had the opportunity to see Duque’s work. “The energy, carefree nature, and articulate attention to detail reminded me of a few artists I admired in Chelsea galleries in 2006 and 2007,” recalls Calendrillo. “The more I studied the work, the more I wanted to learn more about it.”

Duque begins new works by first lightly sketching directly onto the canvas. It is a bold technique, and one that seems to work well for Duque. Interesting techniques are also something Calendrillo greatly appreciates.

Duque says he has always had an inclination towards art. “Ever since I was a child, I loved to draw and play with my imaginary heroes. I would say I was born with a gift, but I also work hard every day and spend long hours accomplishing my paintings.”

An opening reception for the Alexis Duque exhibit will take place October 13, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at 507 Main Street. The exhibit will run through November 3.

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