Jean-Guerly Pétion: Americana Dreaming
Americana Dreaming, 2020, Acrylic, Barbed wire on masonite, 27" x 27"
September 9 – October 30, 2021
Americana Dreaming, an exhibition of new work by Jean-Guerly Pétion at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, presents 16 new works by the Haitian-born artist.
Americana Dreaming presents a disorderly, non-thematic body of work executed with stunning visual flair and stamped with a highly distinctive graphical sensibility. Fiercely, even overtly polemical, these artworks foreground the emotional life of the Black artist while simultaneously alluding to a broad range of literary and theoretical influences, ranging from classical myth to post-structuralist philosophy.
Using techniques from painting, mixed media, and assemblage, Pétion creates phantasmagorical vision-scapes in which colorful decorative elements, surrealist symbols, and potent images of Black identity come together in a dynamic visual carnival. Images of butterflies, flowers, soccer balls, and ferns create an oneiric vocabulary of signs and symbols; elsewhere, a series of densely layered abstractions, suggestive of TV static or electronic noise, showcase the artist’s abiding interest in repetition as a formal tactic.
Pétion, who has also authored surrealistic erotic narratives set in Port-au-Prince and in New York City, himself speaks of the ideas behind his work in dense, gnomic fragments. He describes the work featured in Americana Dreaming as “a series of failures” whose “lacunae and repetition intentionally perform a syncretic cathartic liberating gesture” and whose “fragments and images are actually connected” as part of a “trajectory of rhizomic lines of flight and events.”
This tensile theoretical armature derives from his readings of the work of deconstructionist writers like Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan, as well as post- colonialist scholars such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, whose concept of the subaltern informs the polemicist thrust and liberatory energy of much of Pétion’s visual narratives. The contrast between the hothouse explosion of Pétion visual style and the cool, cerebral armature of its intellectual grounding lends his artistic practice the gravity borne of a bracing dialectical interplay.
Jean-Guerly Pétion was born in Haiti and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA) and at CalArts (MFA). His paintings confront emotionally charged first- and third-world class issues via theoretical texts and compelling images. His art has been featured in the California African American Museum and the 18th Street Art Center. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
For further information or to schedule an interview with the artist, please contact us at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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