Alex Hernández Dueñas
Octavia Art Gallery
454 Julia Street
January 4–25, 2014
Alex Hernández Dueñas paints places where most people can only dream of living— warm, sunny scenes of luxury. Aspirational places, like one might find on a ripped magazine page pinned to an otherwise dreary cubical. Lounge chairs rest under beach umbrella canopies alongside bright reflective waters. At a distance, these scenes look nostalgically like David Hockney works of the 1960s, but up close Dueñas’ pronounced brushstrokes render them much more dazing. What stands out is the total lack of anyone to enjoy these highly coveted comforts; a rumpled towel on a lounge chair by the pool is the only remaining evidence of a possible sunbather.
It is this lack of people dipping their toes into the water’s edge, or enjoying a sparkling cocktail in the sun, that leaves us wondering about who has access to these spaces, pointing to the very real social and economic barriers these dream aesthetics represent. (Also on view is a smaller series of watercolor lighthouses that would fit right in on the walls of a vacation home.) The viewer is invited to indulge in the fantasy, while simultaneously being reminded that the rooftop of a penthouse (and let’s not forget these paintings) is reserved for a lucky few. The rest of us will have to be content with the pages pinned to our cubicles.
Works by Alex Hernández Dueñas at Octavia Art Gallery are being shown alongside fellow Cuban painter Karlos Pérez.