By: SEBASTIAN PHILLIPS
A new exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, provides a journey through Miami artist Alexandre Arrechea’s prolific career.
The intersection of architecture and social issues has interested artist Alexandre Arrechea as far as he can remember. It certainly informed his work as one of the founding members of Los Carpinteros, the lauded Cuban collective he was part of from 1991 to 2003. It’s also been a driving force in his oeuvre as a solo artist and projects such as Nolimits (2013), a series of 10 sculptures inspired by Manhattan’s most iconic buildings and erected along the city’s Park Avenue. And it definitely sets the tone of Intersected Horizons, an exhibition (running through May 2024) at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California in which Arrechea employs traditional artifacts and materials to explore social and political issues while melding art, history, and archaeological forms.
So much of your work is informed by architecture. Where does that fascination come from? I come from Trinidad, one of Cuba’s most beautiful and breathtaking towns. From a young age, I deeply appreciated the city’s colonial architecture. School excursions had us wandering the streets, developing our drawing skills by sketching the iconic buildings that define the cityscape. It was during those experiences that my fascination with architecture was truly born.
What about this idea of turning architecture on its head, like you did with Nolimits, in which you altered iconic New York City buildings in almost comical ways? Is this a way to make them your own? Indeed. Throughout the project, delving into the history of the buildings incorporated into my sculptures became essential. This endeavor deepened my connection to the unique histories associated with each structure.
Some artists may be apprehensive about monumental works, but not you. Do you prefer to create large works? Whether it’s large objects or sizable watercolors, my intention is to provide a space for a unique and engaging experience.
What can we expect from your new exhibition, Intersected Horizons? It spans the last 20 years of my solo career. In collaboration with curator Gabriela Urtiaga, the aim was to depart from a conventional chronological presentation. Instead, we sought to explore something innovative and playful. The exhibition delves into the dialogue among works from different periods, offering a fresh perspective on my artistic journey.
There are several sculptural objects in the show. What do they represent? The museography of the exhibition encompasses two rooms. One is dedicated to works associated with interventions produced in the public realm, while the other room showcases works created in the studio. This approach highlights the versatility and evolution of my artistic practice.
What do you hope to get across to viewers about your work? I aim to prompt viewers to contemplate these subjects, fostering a deeper reflection. It is crucial for individuals to consistently question their reality, and this exhibition endeavors to facilitate that introspection.
What else can we expect from you going forward? I will be unveiling several public projects in major cities, along with new and exciting collaborations currently in the making. | alexandrearrechea.com