September 25, 2012 at 4:25 PM

‘Vulnerabilities’ at Destiny Allison Fine Art

“Three artists explore the human face…”

By Tom Maguire

Culture Vulture

Tom Maguire is a musician, arts supporter and a guy who travels the Southwest in a 13’ Scamp trailer, because he couldn’t figure out how the tent poles went together.

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In “Vulnerabilities”, the upcoming show at Destiny Allison Fine Art, three artists explore the human face to speak of the human condition. Francisco Benitez, Emilia Faro and Destiny Allison bring their combined talents to bear on this subject in a show that opens on Saturday, October 6t with an artists’ reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in Destiny’s gallery in La Tienda in Eldorado.

What else triggers an emotional response in us more readily than looking into the face of a fellow human being? For centuries, artists have been trying to capture the ineffable quality that a face has to move us. The face has been rendered by artists in thousands of ways throughout the centuries, exploring the emotions we are capable of eliciting with our facial expressions. In the group show, “Vulnerabilities”, three artists, each in their unique style, use the face as a conveyance to interpret their own musings about what it entails to be human.

In his latest series of encaustic portraits, Santa Fe-based painter Francisco Benitez seeks to have the contemporary viewer reflect upon the past’s presence in our psyches. His figures have an almost sculptural mass to them, and their countenances seem like distant cousins to those shown in the encaustic funeral portraits done during the first century in Egypt’s Fayum Basin area. Benitez’ subjects seem to have a keen awareness of the world they’re looking out at, from a distance devoid of time. Benitez actually uses the same technique as the ancient artists of the Fayum period, working with a tetrachromy (four-color palette) of waxes and heated tools to create his contemporary “historicized” portraits.

Benitez’ encaustic work in the show is beautifully juxtaposed by the ephemeral and delicate quality of the work of Sicilian artist Emilia Faro, who Benitez met during his solo show in Syracuse, Italy in 2006. For the show at Destiny Allison, Faro has created a series of masterful watercolor portraits of ethereally lovely females and young girls, whose faces seem to be either gently dissolving away or coming into form. What is highly resolved in each subject is an expression of thoughtfulness, an introspective moment that mostly registers in the subject’s eyes. The models are in certain instances based on fashion magazine images, others are personal acquaintances. As a group, the images carry a certain message as well, rendered in the pale shades of watercolor, an art form once considered a “lady’s activity.” Using that particular medium and her particular subject matter, Faro’s paintings both occupy and critique themselves, nudging the viewer to understand that some gender-related notions could and should segue into a more deepened view of what is object, what is subject.

Destiny Allison, a highly recognized sculptor, has worked with large abstract forms and complex compositional rhythms, in an effort to recognize, understand, and emotively express universally human concerns. In recent times this line of pursuit has culminated in her published autobiographical work, “Shaping Destiny,” a relentlessly honest examination of her own journey toward becoming more fully human. Although less overtly figurative in her work than Benitez or Faro, Destiny was intrigued by the notion of vulnerability, and will be presenting sculptures which express to her the metaphorically vulnerable cracks in the human soul.

Destiny’s namesake gallery is one of the region’s more exceptional art spaces. Although it generally functions as a venue to showcase her own work, the artist occasionally opens the space to guest artists in an effort to develop fresh, challenging ideas outside of the traditional gallery context. The gallery is fast becoming a point of convergence for artists to exhibit and dialogue in its open environment, where art-related talks and events are scheduled throughout the year.

The exhibition runs through Saturday, November 3.

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