Street Archives, 2021

Exposición individual de Joan "Entes" Jiménez

Miami Art Society

Miami, Florida, EE.UU.

Texto curatorial

Jerson Ramirez

Museografía

Miami Art Society

Texto de sala

In Phaedrus, Plato represents the human soul in the form of a moving carriage, pulled by two horses who are guided by a driver. One of the horses was docile and gentle and would calmly allow himself to be driven. The other, in turn, was always uneasy and agitated. Due to this uneven situation, the driver would have to permanently try and keep both beasts in balance in order to maintain a constant pace that would let the soul reach its final destination.

Like the driver, Joan Jiménez – known as Entes in the Peruvian art scene – has developed an artistic practice that alternates between serene art studios and agitated city streets. He is keen on making the particularities of his local urban culture visible, to achieve this, he dives into Lima’s aggressive public space with the intent of looking at passerby’s actions and gestures. The information gathered in these observation periods forms a visual archive that activates characters and scenarios that are materialized through the use of various techniques, formats, and surfaces.

In the artist’s repertoire, dark-skinned characters, full lips, long limbs, eye-catching clothing, and irreverent attitudes are the norm. Through these characters, the afro Peruvian artist reveals his most important aim: to gain back his culture’s rightful space in the local collective consciousness. It is important to highlight two of his work’s characteristics: the need to make his work accessible to all and the use of local stylistic devices of the 19th and 20th centuries to strengthen his discourse.

Entes’ artistic endeavors began by illegally spraying city walls with graffiti. In time, these unlawful activities gave way to portrayals of urban everyday life and social issues. These pieces, visible to anyone who walked by, became commonplace for dialogue, reflection, and questioning of the status quo. This motivated the artist to embark on murals that would shine a light on a problem that persists to this day in the city of kings: racism.

Later, his passage through art school became a stepping stone in his career. His academic training profoundly impacted his investigative tendencies and propelled him to look at how this problem had been addressed in the history of Peruvian art. He found in Pancho Fierro’s Costumbrista watercolors and José Sabogal’s and Camilo Blas’es Indigenista oil paintings, stylistic references that he would assimilate and update in accordance to current international tendencies. The visual language he developed allows him to highlight afro Peruvian values through the use of portraiture.

The characters are presented in the foreground over intense neon backgrounds. This device pulls the character away from any historic narrative or social context, allowing the viewer to focus on the person being portrayed. By interacting with them, the spectator can try to get to know them and access their thoughts. By observing their physical attributes, facial expressions, colorful clothing, and accessories, the viewer can imagine their everyday life, the places they frequent, and what they do. However, it is impossible to know them entirely as the artist has not named them. This fact, also present in his most recent sculptures and engravings, depersonalizes these individuals and turns them into icons, symbols of the afro Peruvian culture.

On the other hand, the Strappos series undergo a similar phenomenon: figures are synthesized and, to a certain extent, become illustrations. Even though empty backgrounds are also used, it is imperative to note that the background already exists on the wall’s surface. Some of these walls are affected by humidity or sunlight, others are covered in countless Chicha posters and others are covered in bullet holes. They all tell the story of the territory they are in and complement the viewing of the icons represented on them.

Street Archives is a synthesis of Joan Jimenez’s art practice. This exhibit gathers and juxtaposes different pieces which allow the visitor to not only get to know the artist’s conceptual preoccupations but also the preoccupations of a minority that garners very little attention. Entes is aware that there is still a long road to tread, however, this does not unsettle him. The maturity he has reached lets him work at his own pace, feeding off the streets and his art studio. As the saying goes: “the journey is more important than the destination”. 

Jerson Ramirez
September, 2021.

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