January 10 to February 11, 2001
Artists Talk and Reception:
Thursday, January 18, 5 to 7pm
The Sweeney Art Gallery presents Lining, an exhibition of paintings by San Diego-based artist Mariángeles Soto-Díaz. Soto-Díaz is the first artist of the PROJECTS 2001 Series.
The paintings in this show are drawn from the series Consanguinidad Virtual/Virtual Consanguinity, a body of work united by method, theme, and color. Consanguinity means blood ties or relations, as in family and lineage; the term sanguine refers to blood as well, as in the color red. Soto-Díaz infuses her abstract paintings with a personal resonance by incorporating fragments of e-mail and correspondence written in Spanish between her and women from her family in Venezuela. Her method involves reducing, enlarging, and inverting text, distorting it to the point of illegibility. She then transfers and incorporates the altered text onto the canvas, creating areas that are densely built up and veiled by varying layers of red oil paint, alkyd, wax, and other media. The resulting surfaces generate a tension by revealing private information while retaining a degree of privacy.
Soto-Díaz challenges the visual codes and conventions of abstraction by translating and layering her paintings with gender and culturally specific references. She states, Far from exploring a kind of pure and universal language that avoids
the admission of cultural or personal specificities, I sneak entire color fields of private e-mail text in Spanish, my native language. By incorporating text, a text that directly references personal experience, Soto-Diazs paintings reject assumptions about the nature of abstraction, that it be relationless, non-referential, and pure. Indeed the artist richly embeds her seemingly abstract work with cultural and personal significance.
While the formal elements of Soto-Díazs paintings, the square and rectangular grid-like compositions, the pleasing tonal varieties of the color red, all function within the aesthetics of abstraction, her carefully integrated e-mail text also alludes to the aesthetics of computer imagery. The artist explains, The @ symbol carries a great symbolic weight in my work referencing both the expectation of a fixed connection between person and place, yet at the same time -- given the fluctuating nature of cyberspace -- also revealing instability. For me, this instability parallels a larger sense of dislocation emblematic of the person in exile, even if such exile is voluntary.
Lining also includes works with sections of handwritten text, further exploring the nature of lineage and intimacy while subtly reminding us of the abstract quality, or linearity, of the words themselves. Soto-Díazs work extends in a variety of directions; stand back and enjoy the calming order of color, come closer for the multiple associations that lie beneath.
Born in Venezuela, Soto Díaz received her MFA in 1999 from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. She holds a BA in art from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and attended the Instituto de Arte Federico Brandt and the Instituto de Diseño de Caracas, both in Caracas, Venezuela. Exhibitions of Soto-Díazs work have been held at Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Los Angeles; DA Center for the Arts in Pomona, CA; Peggy Phelps Gallery at Claremont Graduate University, CA; Hampden Gallery at the University of Massachusetts; and the Womens Art Collective in Amherst, Massachusetts.