The exhibit will be on view from September 7–October 9 at the gallery’s Lower East Side location. There will be a reception for the artist from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7.
In his new body of work, Vallejo pays tribute to two sources of literary inspiration. Most striking is Federico Garcia Lorca’s book of poems In Search of Duende. The notion of “duende,” explored by the Spanish poet, is that inexplicable heightened awareness that emanates from a creator wholly immersed in their medium. Most often associated with the art forms of flamenco dance, music, and bullfighting, all who come in contact with a person invoking their inner duende will fall under its spell.
Vallejo’s paintings reflect on the improvisational and expansive qualities that exist in nature— particularly the light and colors of his Caribbean home. Patterned polychrome fabrics form a starting point to his work. Vallejo employs each fabric directly by incorporating the material itself onto the canvas, or through a painterly transfer of the fabric’s saturated floral patterns. In the creation of his artwork, Vallejo paints with his hands—in essence communicating directly with the canvas - he physically moves the paint across the image plane. His seemingly haphazard gestures yield a striking and spontaneous visual ode to color and mark-making – Vallejo’s duende is in effect.
Resting beneath this vibrant painterly aesthetic is the asphodel; a flower burdened by Greek Mythology and Christianity with associations of the underworld, death, and the afterlife. Poet and songwriter, Leonard Cohen, explores the image of the asphodel in his poem Satan in Westmount. In it, a sophisticated but sinister figure with “finely carved” hands and “cultivated” fingernails, acts as a siren, singing old songs and luring the listeners into a feeling of love for poetry and the arts. The danger of this devil-in-disguise is identified only by a discreet “sprig of asphodel” worn in his lapel. While he seduces his audience with the delights of art and the art world, this particular Satan places the perils that come with it out of sight.
In Search of Asphodels is an examination of the artist's inherent quest for the sublime in art. The sprig of asphodel on his lapel serves to remind the beholder of the ever-present struggle in reaching an intangible goal.
Sebastian Vallejo is a Brooklyn-based artist born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He received his BFA from University of Puerto Rico in 2004 and MFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. His works have been exhibited widely including shows at Lehmann Maupin, New York; Lloyd Dobler Gallery, Chicago; The Green Gallery, Milwaukee. Earlier this year Vallejo was the subject of a solo exhibition at El Museo del Arsenal de la Puntilla in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.
An opening reception for the artists will be held on Wednesday September 7 from 6 - 9pm