Teresita Fernández: “Caribbean Cosmos”

“Teresita Fernández: Caribbean Cosmos” is on view from September 14 to November 5, 2022, at Lehmann Maupin, London (located at 1 Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London).

Lehmann Maupin announces Caribbean Cosmos, an exhibition of new work by New York-based artist Teresita Fernández. Known for her expansive practice characterized by an interest in materiality, conceptual wayfinding, and reflective engagement, Fernández creates immersive work that critically rethinks landscape and place. Incorporating diverse historical and cultural references, Fernández challenges entrenched spatial frameworks and poetically exposes the history of colonization and the inherent violence embedded in how we imagine and define both land and location. On view at Lehmann Maupin London from September 14–November 5, 2022, Caribbean Cosmos includes a charcoal sculpture, a large-scale, glazed ceramic panel, and a new series of seascape dissolves rendered on copper. The artist will be in conversation with Rachel Thomas, Chief Curator of the Hayward Gallery on September 15 at the Royal Geographical Society, London. On October 11, the gallery will host a conversation between Fernández and Sir David Adjaye at 4 Cromwell Place.

In Caribbean Cosmos, Fernández presents a nuanced understanding of the Caribbean, looking beyond dominant, continental narratives and instead considering the region as emblematic of an expansive, decentralized physical geography, and a global, diasporic state of mind. Using this dispersed lens, she unravels dynamic strands of rhizomatic connection, sprawling landscapes, and a metaphysical understanding of the natural world. Fernández uses earthly elements—including fired clay, etched and polished copper, and solid charcoal made from burned trees—to summon a churning material world in the ever-changing flux of decay, evolution, and renewal. In Caribbean Cosmos Fernández infuses matter with meaning, achieving a type of alchemy in the transformation of her raw materials.

Fernández often shifts between the cosmic and the microscopic, the subterranean and the firmament, and the geological and the ephemeral—often within a single work. The titular Caribbean Cosmos (2022) is a 12-foot panel composed of thousands of tiny ceramic tesserae, which are glazed with minerals from the earth and fired at high temperatures, mimicking volcanic processes. The work depicts swirling shapes that suggest colliding galaxies, archipelagos, aerial views of hurricanes, and vortex rings such as those found in the tributary systems of the human body. Fernández’s adept manipulation of scale reminds us that the physical forces shaping the universe are the same as those that govern our own bodily rhythms. [. . .]

Fernández’s complex intertwining of material and meaning also figures prominently in Pendent(Lynched Land) (2022), which depicts a battered palm tree frond hanging ominously from a hemp rope. The somber wall sculpture is composed of textured, hand-carved charcoal, a material that is itself created from burned trees, and the work highlights Fernández’s focus on raw materials drawn from the earth. [. . .]

Anchoring the second half of the exhibition is Kalunga(Copper Planet) (2022), in which a celestial copper body floats above a seemingly tranquil sea. In this work and the smaller seascapes that comprise Kalunga(Maria/Marea) (2022), Fernández uses patina on copper panel to dissolve material and image, creating fluid movement that introduces an element of chance into the composition. In Kalunga(Copper Planet) the effect suggests windswept clouds encircling the celestial body, which is connected alchemically to Venus, a planet associated with the feminine across countless ancient cosmologies. The most reflective element of the panel, this warm, glowing sphere becomes like a looking glass, animating the viewer’s gaze and merging it with the nocturnal scene. The title references the Kalunga line, a watery threshold dividing the spiritual and physical worlds that figures prominently in religious traditions in the Congo Basin as well as Afro Caribbean traditions, and which is often associated with the Atlantic Ocean. Made of two flush but separate copper panels, the piece has a sculptural quality that creates a felt physical boundary dividing the waters above from those below. [. . .]

[Image above: Kalunga (Maria/Marea) (2022), Teresita Fernández. Photo: Daniel Kukla; courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.]

For full description, see https://www.lehmannmaupin.com/exhibitions/teresita-fernandez12/press-release

Also see https://news.artnet.com/buyers-guide/spotlight-teresita-fernandez-lehmann-maupin-2167680

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