"Carlos Estevez: Images of Thought" Opens at UB Nov. 5

Exhibition will explore how artist brilliantly illuminates complex relationship between art and thought

Release Date: October 6, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Art Gallery will present "Carlos Estévez: Images of Thought," an exhibition that will run Nov. 5 to Feb. 13 in its first floor gallery and will feature 31 works by the esteemed Cuban-born artist.

The gallery is located in the UB Center for the Arts, North (Amherst) Campus. An opening reception will be held on Nov. 5 from 5-7 p.m., which will open with a 30-minute introductory talk by Estévez.

The exhibition will be free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed Nov. 26-27, and during UB's winter recess, Dec. 22 to Jan. 11. For information, call 716-645-6913.

The exhibition will be curated by Jorge J.E. Gracia, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy and Comparative Literature at UB, and the author of "Images of Thought: Philosophical Interpretations of Carlos Estévez's Art" (2009, SUNY Press).

On Nov. 6 from 3-5 p.m. in 120 Clemens Hall, the VIII Samuel P. Capen Symposium "Thinking with Images" will explore the roots of Estévez's work and how the images he uses affect our understanding of the philosophical issues he poses.

It will feature two distinguished speakers, Holly Block, executive director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, a champion of new artists who is considered one of New York's most adventurous and creative curators, and cultural historian Charles Burroughs, Elsie B. Smith Professor of Liberal Arts at Case Western Reserve University, whose work focuses on responses to and reactions against the classical tradition in the visual arts and in architecture.

Gracia says the exhibition represents all aspects of the career of Estévez, whose art has attracted substantial attention in Europe, the United States and Latin America, where it is found in major public and private collections.

Estévez's art forms range from sculpture and installation to oil and acrylic on canvas and paper, drawings on paper, assemblage, collage and combinations of each. He works with traditional materials, but has incorporated non-traditional elements -- including bottles, dolls and gadgets he finds in rummage sales and flea markets -- into his art.

Many of his later works feature dynamic images of human and animal forms over technical, linear drawings. These figures often reference constellations and the greater space of the cosmos by using lines to connect star-like dots, while at the same time they remain grounded in human space by allusion to marionette puppets.

The pieces in "Images of Thoughts" represent his artistic practice from 1992 to 2009, and illustrate the focus of much of Estévez's work: the expression, through visual images, of complex philosophical problems and ideas prompted by the human predicament.

Gracia says, "Through them he asks about the source of knowledge, the role of reason and faith in understanding, how we communicate with each other, whether women and men have a common perspective or see the world differently, whether we are free or controlled by forces we cannot avoid and if our destiny is predetermined.

"The world of images Estévez creates for us is intended to make us understand the complexity of these questions and to lead us to answers of our own. His art is a laboratory of sorts, an observation platform," Gracia says.

"The mind behind the work is as fascinated with new discoveries as that of Renaissance and Enlightenment scientists and explorers. This quality accounts in part for the philosophical character of Estévez's creations. Every piece has a philosophical twist, poses a conceptual puzzle, presents a controversial view, reveals an existential predicament or uncovers an intuition about humans and their predicaments."

In many ways, his work is child-like in that it has a playful, ingenious character associated with our early lives, according to Gracia.

"But," says Gracia, "it is also scientific in its clever engineering feats, and it always displays a deep curiosity and insight into the world and humanity. We are asked to look at it and ponder, as children do in a puppet show, fascinated by the possibilities opening before our eyes.

"The modern and archaic, the avant-garde and traditional, the conceptual and formal, and the strong and delightful combine in Estévez's art," he says, "to draw the observer into a universe of wonder. And, although the art seems to be driven by ideas, it makes no statements. Its inherent ambiguity leads to questions rather than answers, a reason why it eminently serves as an instrument of philosophical reflection."

The exhibition will be accompanied by Gracia's book, which presents philosophical interpretations of 18 works by Estévez, corresponding full-color images and an interview with the artist.

The UB Art Gallery is funded by the UB College of Arts and Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, the Seymour H. Knox Fine Arts Fund and the Fine Arts Center Endowment. This exhibition was funded in part by the Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy and Comparative Literature.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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