Felipe Lopez’s show casts light on water issues
By: Molly Glentzer
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Lopez, who lives in Houston, was born in the Bronx to a family of Cuban-Americans. Water and fishing culture have always been part of his life and art. He has been tying his own fly fishing lures since he was a kid. Since 2016 he also has been suspending fancy lures in resin, within sculptures cast from the shapes of light bulbs, and incorporating them as elements of complex works that involve netting and painting.
This newer faucet development takes him somewhere better. The installation at the warehouse-like space Forma 110 is elegantly minimal and lit dramatically, with a video playing high on one wall that helps to create a mysterious atmosphere. The spare presentation allows viewers to focus on the unique contents of each “bulb,” including the the colors of clear resin in which Lopez suspends his lures. I’m not crazy about the imperfections in the “bulbs,” and I could see a next step in which the artist actually embedded lights within each faucet.
But that doesn’t dim Lopez’ concept. Each piece is a microcosm evoking relationships between nature and human civilization. The resin doesn’t just refract light; it’s a petrochemical by-product. The colors held there could represent oceans, sunlight and land; or even countries. (He pointed out one that is distinctively red, white and blue.) And he used commonly available faucets, the kind sold by the millions at big-box hardware stores — a statement about the consumption of our most precious commodity.
One sculpture within a Lucite pedestal at the front of the space is lit from underneath, casting a glow — and a moment of extreme clarity. Lopez sees it as a sacred monument. “I wanted people to be drawn to it, like an altar,” he said. “This is very symbolic. I grew up with glasses of water and wine around the house as sacred spaces.”
And he isn’t done with the theme yet. With an individual artist grant from the city, he is developing a multi-site public artwork, “Nature Illuminated,” that will debut later this year.