Memories and Mysteries: Recent Works by Leslie Jean-Bart and Alex Mendoza
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2017
From December 6, 2017 to January 20, 2018, the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba is pleased to present the works of two artists in Memories and Mysteries: Recent Works by Leslie Jean-Bart and Alex Mendoza. The exhibition is organized by guest curator Debra Vanderburg Spencer. Both Haitian-born photographer Leslie Jean-Bart and Cuban-born painter Alex Mendoza are New York-based artists. While niether is new to the United States, memories of the homelands are integral to the enduring narratives of their work.
Leslie Jean-Bart's photographic images carry a distinct social or political message. Works from his series, Reality & Imagination, are informed by contemporary political events. They are commentaries on the state of immigrant rights and the separation or merging of two cultures. The role of light, and Jean-Bart's use of silhouette and shadow are fundamentally important features of his work. The reality of cultural merging extends to his photo mono-prints that combine photography and printmaking. Jean-Bart explains, "For many years, I have musing on how to combine Still Photography and Printmaking in an attempt to expand the boundaries of photography. Reality & Imagination is an ideal opportunity because the culture that one immigrates from is always referred to as the "old country", and the new is referred to as the "it" culture of the time. Printmaking represents the old medium, while digital photography represents the "it" or timely medium. Combining them by hand also represents the physical adjustments made when one lives permanently abroad."
Alex Mendoza's art is also inspired by his homeland, but while political or social messages are present, they are no as evident. Using a limited color palette which he manipulates with a sense of ritual and rhythm, Mendoza's abstract paintings, as in Echu Alimu, and Eleggua Bara Ala Asuayo, are inspired by Ile-Ife culture, its mysteries, mythologies, spiritual texts and ancestural histories. Mendoza states, "In the series of paintings "Ile Ife." I rediscover the essence of color presence... "Ile Ife" is according to Yoruba tradition and the Lukumi language, a big community were created, the cradle of humanity, the first dwelling of Orunmila on earth before moving his residence to Ado. It is located in the territory of present day Nigeria."
The works of immigrant Leslie Jean-Bart and Alex Mendoza make powerful artistic and cultural statements. As with many Caribbean artists of African descent, Jean-Bart and Mendoza have unique ability to observe the world around them and create windows that give insight into their realities.
Kenkeleba programs are made possible, in part, by public funds from the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and many generous friends.