Local artist Aja Reyes opens her first solo exhibition, A Colorful Human Reaction, at Lees-Reyes Art Gallery this weekend. Her work has depth and meaning, as well as rich colors and textures.
Reyes deftly transitions from postmodern clean lines and bold colors that recall the aerial perspective of forests and canals to softer, expressionist applications that explore the experience of poverty and begging, in a wide range of styles. Draw a picture.
In a swath of the show that touches on various elements of CHamoru and Micronesian identities and environmentalism, there seems to be no corner of human experience that Reyes does not visit, but she believes that her art invites people to question and converse. I would like to invite you to Rather than make them feel uncomfortable.
“It can spark conversations on topics such as watershed management, Red Hills, groundwater contamination in Honolulu City and Honolulu County, gun ownership, mass shootings, cancer, loss of knowledge (both good and bad). Transferring knowledge between generations, etc. … All these topics are there, but it makes for a much more … enjoyable presentation, if someone is not ready, keep it at a lighter level and go deeper later You can,” said Reyes.
works of art
Wherever Reyes sees a “satisfying presentation”, it’s almost always fine art. Her work is undeniably skilled when it comes to technique, and her choice of approaching meaningful problems with such nuance and guidance is admirable.
Amazingly, Reyes has only taken one formal art class, but has been sketching the natural world since he was a child. Reyes recalls growing up with much of her inspiration from her time underwater and hiking around Guam, which eventually led her to pursue a career in marine biology, being an artist aunt and gallery owner. I benefited from the presence of a certain Dawn Rees Reyes.
Reyes recalls her aunt sharing materials and knowledge with her since childhood, including old video cassettes about art history and famous artists.
“Growing up in Guam, you couldn’t get a beautiful painting. In the movies you saw, you saw something like a gallery. People go to galleries and it’s very elegant, but expensive was.
I just thought, “Well, I’ll never be able to afford that.” I should try to create it. It opened up the possibility for us to access things we thought were inaccessible,” says Reyes.
Despite her current lack of formal training, she counts Cubist and Dadaist masters such as Paul Gauguin, Max Ernst, Henri Matisse and Marcel Duchamp among her major influences, as well as Barbara Hepworth and the more contemporary I’m looking for female artists in the same movement, such as Cecily. brown.
We have a lot. I’ve only scratched the surface of learning all of their names. You wouldn’t know their names by looking at art, but their work is well known because they brushed their teeth with famous male artists, but they didn’t come to the foreground with them at the time. ” said Reyes.
Some of Reyes’ most powerful works are paintings made from turn-of-the-century photographs, including those of her great-grandparents, inspired by articles published by the Pacific Daily News in the 1980s on various families on Guam. .
“It really helped me understand my roots.
That line of thinking has led her to other photographs, including a 1996 photograph by Bruce Campbell of Yap woman Eurelie Langambey preparing for her menstrual chant.
“I was struck by her pose, her posture, and women are very strong people. As is typical, it is not commonly seen on other Micronesian islands.
“So I really wanted to do portraits that bring dignity and grace and dignity to those people,” said Reyes.
That approach of celebrating the dignity, grace, and majesty of the people, land, and culture around her permeates all of Reyes’ work, and the invitation to delve into her nuanced imagery is an integral part of her paintings. Filled with ample rewards like “Y Achun Palao’an” or “Rock Woman”.
At first glance, we see a grayscale, geometric and feminine figure. Take another look and you might see her style of mestiza in her Spanish era hair and clothes, but a closer look reveals that her shape is also one of her stones in latte.
Reyes participates in the grand CHamoru storytelling tradition with her drawing style. She said it best in a description of her two large companion works, “Until They Disappear” or “La Reducción”.
“It is not only the importance of the Taotao Mona tree, but also the importance of the mangrove roots in stabilizing the coast. I remember people getting a picture of a person wrapped in a Taotao Mona tree. So that you can see the head or something. This is my version,” said Reyes.
“So it’s called ‘Until They Disappear,’ and it’s about having conversations before people are gone. Talk before you lose that information, before you lose that connection.”