Ernesto Gutiérrez Moya: The Enigma of an Evening in Autumn

February 6 - March 27, 2021

In the process of constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing spaces and color, a parallel world is born.

Selected Works

Ernesto Gutiérrez Moya: The Enigma of an Evening in Autumn

The Enigma of an Evening in Autumn is an exhibition of new works by Ernesto Gutiérrez Moya currently being presented at Emerson Dorsch. The show’s main work, The Pond, consists of six large canvases that interlock to form one long linear piece. Different bodies of water, both natural and man-made, emerge in peculiar spots throughout the canvases, contributing to an already mystical landscape. It’s unknown exactly where or what this place is, and each canvas, although together they are read as one, has a life of its own. A supernatural purple tree appears at the forefront of one frame, while fountains bubble in the middle of a large pond in another. An impossible sharp shadow is reflected on a massive amorphophallus titanium, an endangered flower known for its phallic features and rare bloom. What’s most striking, perhaps, are the colors Gutiérrez Moya uses to represent certain elements found in nature. Deep reds and magentas replace greens and browns, adding to the ambiguity of the imagined space, and the lack of human presence only emphasizes the sometimes-unidentifiable architectural structures that feel so real in the artist’s fantastic world.

Gutiérrez Moya was born in Havana, Cuba and studied painting at the San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts where he later taught technique and representation. His formal education and the influence of years spent drawing are not obvious amid his fantastic scenery at first glance. It is in the articulation of constructed lines and abstract architectural configurations that a connection to his past work exists. These structures sit still while prominent brush strokes create movement in the ever-present water, and artists such as Claude Monet and Neo Rauch come to mind. Gutiérrez Moya lists these and other artists—Giorgio de Chirico, David Hockney, Hernan Bas, Matthias Weischer, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, and author Dr. Seuss—as impacting how he approaches his technique today.

Starting without a sketch for the blank canvas, he instead builds the image slowly, layering on color by color through consistent strokes. A base coat is first applied with a spatula, and shapes soon begin to take form. Although he spent some time with acrylic paints when he moved to Miami five years ago, his return to oils has allowed for a further exploration in the development of his style, translating brush stokes into an aesthetic narrative. Found among the overgrown gardens and mystical swamps is Gutiérrez Moya’s search for a connection through the composition of lines, and in the process of constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing spaces and color, a parallel world is born.

During recent travels through Florida, Gutiérrez Moya discovered copious amounts of fountains and artificial ponds and photographed them for this series of work. In many instances, he paints these strange, imposed bodies of water as a way to depict reality in his built environments. While some elements are based off of the real, plants are often replicated from images found in art and science books, other elements are made up representations of existing forms. In a similar way that a house or a city is constructed piece by piece, he constructs enigmatic jungles and forests in his paintings. Lush vegetation and rich colors paired with the apparent deluge spilling throughout abandoned scenes imply a failed utopia. These fantastic landscapes whose protagonists are purposefully missing evoke a sense of escapism and incite the viewer to create their own story. The colors don’t always necessarily match, and at times they are nonsensical, but this only adds to the transcendent quality of the work.

Gutiérrez Moya says, “water helps you see,” meaning that water lends itself well to seeing different perspectives. Through its reflection, images are constantly changing because the movement in water is infinite. The same can be said of Gutiérrez Moya’s trajectory. There are traces of his previous work in this show—the representation of light through sharp angles, the line composition found in his drawings—but the perspective has changed. His landscapes have evolved, allowing colors to open up a new space from which to react and for architectural elements to pose questions that lead to a better understanding of the spaces we inhabit.

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