For many folks, a family get-together is more of a responsibility than a choice activity of leisure. While people so often take their own family’s traditions and history for granted, artist Anthony Goicolea chooses to dig extensively into his for inspiration in his exhibition series, Related. A recent trip to Cuba connected the Atlanta-born, Pratt Institute-educated, first generation American to his cultural and familial past, the result of which drew feelings of both dislocation and nostalgia. Culver City’s Sandroni Rey Gallery showcases the third installment of the New York-based artist’s ongoing series, a collection of manipulated photography, painting, and installation conveying his subsequent associations to his Cuban roots.
Most of Related III uses found family portraits (mostly of individuals) as a basis for Goicolea to create hypothetical and fantastical moments which become manifestations of his own version of truth gleaned from the Cuba visit. The particularly outstanding diptych Supper (2008) features a fictional dinner where idealized versions of family members from all different generations are represented. Goicolea does this by painting over photographs printed on canvas (in both negative and positive) in a strict gray-scale palette that makes his subjects stark and haunting. He uses this method again in Family Geometry (2008), a family tree in negative in which the family members seem emanate with light.
Prior to this collection, Goicolea was known for his manipulated photographs, which often featured multiple versions the artist himself in the guise of a rowdy schoolboy to speak about child sexuality and gender identity. In 2007, he exhibited Almost Safe with Postmasters in NYC and The Septemberists at Sandroni Rey, illustrating his series of dense environmental self portraits. While much of the sexuality is removed in the new series, Goicolea does revert to his photographic manipulation roots, re-imagining landscapes and architectural elements from photographs he took during the trip. The prolific and inspired artist draws these works into cohesion with the aforementioned ones by keeping his stark palette and adding touches of handiwork (painting, writing). The overall sensibility is split between the warmth of family association and icy cultural isolation.