Exhibitionin New York, NY / United States
Freight + Volume is pleased to present Cristina de Miguel’s new solo exhibition “Bad Habits”. This is her third exhibition with the gallery. As the title would suggest, de Miguel’s new work is both an examination of, and a departure from, old habits and ways of living, as well as traditional ways of seeing and making art.
Spanish-born painter Cristina de Miguel creates her idiosyncratic paintings, at once sophisticated and disarmingly childlike, yet always steeped in humor and gesture. The paintings are captured moments, ideas, and emotions, largely concerned with the portrait and with allegory. Her non-linear and sometimes whimsical narrative quality lends itself to a spectrum of viewing. There is no absolute or singular way to view her paintings: they need to be explored and experienced. Each painting asks the viewer to discover it, engage with it, experience it, and live it. The audience is invited to fill in the blanks. De Miguel’s imagery derives from her unique life, and through paint she presents her art as a celebration, and as a viable lifestyle.
In de Miguel’s newest series, the artist explores ideas of freedom and appropriation in painting. Referencing the ‘old masters’ of art history and tradition, she creates her own versions, much like Picasso did with Manet’s iconic painting, “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”. In Picasso’s homage “The Painter and his Model”, he rendered his own shamelessly stereotypical remake of the title’s subject. De Miguel’s “Boy Leading a Horse” draws direct inspiration from Picasso’s painting of the same name, while “Adam Expelled from Paradise” is borrowed from the common subject matter of Renaissance masters. The artist views these derivations as opportunities to imbue them with her own wittiness and humor, while maintaining a certain degree of seriousness – via the composition and rhythm, along with the reappropriation of a masterpiece. Artists have been doing this throughout art history, and the artist views this practice more as an accepted convention in contemporary art.
For several years, the artist has been drawn to the juxtaposition of opposing formal and narrative elements in painting; the inspiration for “Bad Habits” conveys this sentiment in a solemn yet also humorous formal manner. This idea of ‘mischievous behavior’ – being bad, but not too bad – relates to the new versions presented by de Miguel, as well as those done by Old Masters. Through this approach, the artist seeks to step away from the formal conventions of the art market and industry, to make the subject matter more refreshing and approachable.
The characters in de Miguel’s paintings are drawn as impressions of people in social media, namely those who seemingly participate in endless days and nights of decadent leisure. The portrayal of this decadent demographic is not foreign to (often frivolous) social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with people sharing ostentatious images of how great their lives are, and how much fun they’re having while living it. This projection of people’s status into public visibility is best connected to individuals by the selection of his or her own profile image. The role of social media between the individual and the public is what shapes the artist’s paintings for “Bad Habits”. Social media, checked multiple times throughout the day by De Miguel, constantly inundates the artist with images of people lounging in scenes of leisure, which leads to her development of the relationships and subjects in her paintings.
In all, de Miguel seeks to create a series that appears free, fresh, austere and spontaneous, while at the same time existing in a deliberate and planned manner. To achieve this directness between her concepts and her audience, the artist draws upon the vast artistic traditions of the past in Western art history. Attracted to the fundamental manner in which children illustrate coloring books, filling the black-outlined images with passionate scribbles of energy and carefree gestures which often spiral beyond the boxes, is simultaneously seen by the artist as pointed and deliberate. This concept inspires de Miguel to start painting the figures with black outlines first, then by filling the shapes with color. The mimicry seems both right and wrong to the artist, who wants revisit her own academic training in Seville. De Miguel employs certain aspects of her education – namely the use of perspective, figuration, and composition, paired with the gestural vigor of her shapes and colors – to synthesize these two opposing agendas in her new series.
Cristina de Miguel (b. Seville, Spain 1987) creates casual, funny, mischievous paintings. The images and motifs that feature in her paintings often are borrowed from old masterpieces, social media and absurd daily scenes. She received a MFA from Pratt Institute and a BFA from the University of Seville. De Miguel was awarded a Skowhegan residence in the summer of 2013. Her work has been reviewed in ARTINFO, NY Arts Magazine, El Correo de Andalucia, and others. Recent solo exhibitions include “Absolutely Yours” at Freight + Volume Gallery, “Extraños en la noche intercambiando miradas” at Arts + Leisure Gallery, and “Nike Head” at Cuchifritos Gallery. De Miguel lives and works in Brooklyn.
Gallery hours Wed – Sun 11 am – 6 pm, and by appointment
Freight + Volume
97 Allen St.
10002 New York, NY