"Everyone carries a room about inside him." - Franz Kafka
Locust Projects is proud to present Man of the Night, an immersive solo installation by Miami-based artist Pepe Mar. The installation excavates the entirety of his practice; the artist collages and assembles images of artifacts, gay ephemera and his personal archive to create a self-portrait that mines his identity and further explores his interest in queer spaces. For this exhibition, Mar has collected images from all of his collage and assemblage works from the past 15 years. These have been reconstructed digitally and printed onto “fabric paintings,” a new direction in the artist’s practice. The paintings are created by cutting, staining, sewing and appliqueing printed fabric to create enormous compositions that make up the walls of the space. The sculptural works he is self- referencing are featured as images flattened onto the fabric, while new works extend out of the fabric into combine-like forms. The artist sees the room as an artwork in and of itself that also houses other artworks, a self-contained art and architectural intervention that collides the artist’s past and present, a Gesamtkunstwerk. The imagery in Mar’s work includes a self- referential cast of anthropomorphic characters. A recurring motif is “el penacho,” or what the artist describes as a mass of elements coalescing together and becoming a burst of energy. His works are snapshots of his restless mind, an archive of his persona.
Of particular significance to the artist are his experiences in two gay cultural meccas: Miami and San Francisco. Mar went to art school in San Francisco when the city’s significant LGBT scene was near its epoch. After finishing art school, he moved to Miami, another gay epicenter where he would eventually firmly establish his artistic practice. As with many members of the LGBT community, the gay nightlife scene became a place of refuge and liberation for the artist. However, as these Miami establishments have shuttered due to gentrification, the artist has chosen to explore the idea of queer spaces in his work in greater and greater depth over the years.
In his first major exploration of queer spaces, Versus, he opened up a pop-up gay nightclub in the Wynwood Arts District in 2015, which the artist says was a “veritable watering hole for queer thought that imitates the baroque atmosphere that once was prevalent in Miami’s gay nightclubs.” In Man of the Night, the artist turned the lens inward to reflect on his own identity through a room-filled installation that functions as a queering of the project gallery, a self-portrait at a critical juncture in his career, and a nostalgic look at the entirety of his art practice. At Locust Projects, the artist will feature two major new assemblages. The first, Curiosity is a portrait of one of his anthropomorphic characters using everything from silk tassels from Morocco to a Comme des Garçons t-shirt to pottery, and a bronze lobster. The work is named after the Curiosity Rover, which was designed by NASA to examine and collect data on Mars; the artist says his practice in ways reflects the same mission of the rover, exploring new terrain and collecting items from his personal life. The second major work, Mars Sunset resembles an acid orange sky with shelves filled with the artist’s own masks mixed with Indonesian marionettes, vessels and foliage to create a scene that the artist says is a “transmutation of color and form becoming landscape,” with a luminosity created by large Lucite balls
Additional support for Pepe Mar: Man of the Night has been provided by Carmen Corrales, Leslie & Greg Ferrero, Steve & Arlyne Wayner, Adriana & Ricardo Malfitano, and David Castillo Gallery.
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