Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce Porta-MANTIS ™, an exhibition of new paintings by Chilean born, New York based artist Alejandro Cardenas. This is Cardenas’ second solo exhibition with the gallery. An opening reception will take place at 4859 Fountain Avenue, Thursday, January 11 from 5 – 7pm.
Portable, from the Latin portare meaning to carry, suggests a lightweight object that can be easily moved. For Porta-MANTIS ™, Alejandro Cardenas has created a series of paintings ready for instant transport. His new paintings are framed in a custom anodized aluminum case, designed as a collaboration between Cardenas and Case Studyo.
Whether setting out on a pleasure cruise, or fleeing the country under duress, these works are not simply static objects, but like medieval tapestries, or Japanese painted scrolls, they are meant to be packed up quickly and carted off for the next adventure. Conceptually, they speak to Cardenas’ ethos of openness about categories like art and design, furniture and architecture, the geometric and organic. Art historically they also pay homage to Duchamp’s Boîte en valise or Broodthaers’ found suitcase sculptures filled with mussels and eggshells, which played with notions of rarity, preciousness, and portability.
While the suitcase framing mechanism connotes escape and transience, the imagery they enshrine is suggestive of benevolence and peace. Across different idyllic biomes from the seashore to thermal arctic baths, the paintings take on a postcard optimism, and build on ideas of mobility, travel, and exchange. Cardenas’ introduces a tension between the hard-edged and severe exoskeleton of his figures with soft and organic qualities of their surrounding landscapes, describing both an idealized view of our world, or of a view of our world as it once was.
Working in painting and sculpture, Cardenas provides a vision of a post-human world wherein the relationship between human form and the environment is one of unity and coexistence. Guided by his own imagination and inspired by a wide range of influences from Surrealism to Sci-Fi to magical realism, Cardenas immerses viewers in the center of an uncanny universe. In Porta-MANTIS ™ polished scenes of a natural reality are driven by an escapist desire for flexibility, newness, a middle ground, and the unexplored in between points.
Alejandro Cardenas (b. 1977, Santiago, Chile) completed his BFA at the Cooper Union School of Art in 2000. Before becoming a full-time studio painter, Cardenas had a successful career as a multimedia artist, working in illustration, graphic design, and videography. For over a decade, Cardenas served as the lead textile designer and art director for the influential fashion label Proenza Schouler. He was also a founding member of Lansing-Dreiden, a New York-based transdisciplinary art collective that produced musical albums, a literary journal, and artworks. Cardenas has exhibited his work in solo exhibitions internationally including Almine Rech, Paris, Shanghai, and New York; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; Stems Gallery, Brussels; Harper’s, New York, NY; Matthew Brown, Los Angeles, CA; La Loma Projects, Pasadena, CA; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. In 2022 two of his works were acquired by public institutional collections, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Institute of Contemporary Art Miami (ICA Miami) from the exhibition Wish You Were Here at Anat Ebgi. Alejandro Cardenas currently lives and works in upstate New York.