Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Orchard, 2009, Oil and wax on canvas, 78 x 100".

Enrique Martinez Celaya: Addressing the Fragility of Human Hopes

Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Holy, 2009, Oil and wax on canvas, 50 x 46".

Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Children, 2008, Oil and wax on canvas, 50 x 46".

Enrique Martínez Celaya, Marjorie (The Companion), 2008, Oil and wax on canvas, 78 x 60".


Sara Meltzer Gallery
525-531 West 26th Street
New York
Enrique Martínez Celaya:
Down With Me

February 19-March 29, 2009

Down With Me, an exhibition of new paintings by Enrique Martínez Celaya. Working in sculpture, photography and painting as well as publishing, is the artist's first gallery exhibition of solely paintings in ten years and marks his second solo exhibition at Sara Meltzer Gallery.

Martínez Celaya's work emerges from a philosophical and literary mindfulness and a commitment to the origins of art, literature, philosophy and science. Influences on his most recent body of work include Søren Kierkegaard, particularly Fear and Trembling and Purity of Heart is To Will One Thing, as well as the critical book Robert Frost: The Ethics of Ambiguity by John H. Timmerman. With an emphasis on the fragility of human hopes, particularly as is embodied in our children and our "legacy,"Down With Me expands on Martinez Celaya's concern with the landscape as an embodiment of the absolute as well as witness to human frailty.

While the iconography in Down With Me suggests a narration, the works are neither figurative nor narrative. They are rather a series of scenes that withhold clear resolution from the viewer. Down With Me revolves around an apple orchard, the immediate beauty of which is shrouded by the artist's dark palette and use of a mixture of oil and wax. This technique, by means of its physical insistence, emphasizes the instability of content and thereby meaning.

While each of the works presents an aspect of landscape, most draw attention to empty spaces and threatening elements; the sky or light may seem beautiful against the expectations set up by the scene, suggesting something has happened or a strong impulse toward a particular course of action. Apples covered in ice may suggest truncated hopes or renewal. A young boy appears at times in wait, and at times yielding a weapon. The orchard peers out of a vast and seemingly endless body of water.  Fields of dandelions suggest spring and the earth's call on change through the violence of the elements.  The paintings in Down With Me depict existential landscapes that contrast faith with resignation, ultimately capturing the impassiveness of the Universe to our lives.

Born in Cuba and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico, Enrique Martínez Celaya lives and works in Florida. Martínez Celaya studied Applied Physics and electrical engineering at Cornell University and pursued a Ph.D. in Quantum Electronics at the University of California, Berkeley. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine and received his M.F.A from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Martínez Celaya has created projects for art venues such as the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig and the Miami Art Museum as well as non-visual art institutions such as the Berliner Philharmonie and St. Mary’s Church in Limerick, Ireland.
Martínez Celaya lectures on art internationally — often on its relation to literature and ethics — and his essays have appeared in many contexts, including Journal of Aesthetic Education, and works + conversations, published by the University of Nebraska Press. In 1998 he founded the publishing house Whale & Star, which publishes books in the areas of art, poetry, art practice and critical theory. He has served as Associate Professor of Art at Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate University (1994-2003), was awarded the Anderson Ranch National Artist Award (2007) and is currently Visiting Presidential Professor at the University of Nebraska.

His artwork is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig and others. Upcoming exhibitions include a survey at The State Russian Museum in St Petersburg, Russia (2009), Selected Works by Enrique Martínez Celaya from a Private Collection, Boca Raton Museum of Art (2009-2010) as well as a mid-career survey organized by Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA, traveling to the Caribbean, South America and North America (2010-2012).  CA; PS1 MOMA, New York, NY; Public Art Fund, City Hall Park, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia; Akira Ikeda Gallery, New York, NY; and Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, Colorado.  This is the artist's first solo exhibition at Sara Meltzer Gallery.

Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Calling, 2009, Oil and wax on canvas, 78 x 60".


Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Black Apples, 2008, Oil and wax on canvas, 46 x 50".