With new work that recalls the tragic ‘beauty’ of plastic debris afloat in the ocean, young Felipe Lopez makes a splash. By Chris Becker, Photos by Daniel Ortiz
Imagine swimming in the ocean. You take a breath and dive deep. Beams of light shine down from above, but the colors are garish and unnatural, like intermittent lasers from a broken lighting rig in a decrepit disco. You swim for the surface, but before breaking through for a gulp of air, your trajectory is blocked by a shield of slimy, non-bio-degradable plastic.
Now blink. You’re actually standing in a gallery, surrounded by a black curtain, craning your neck to view Houston artist Felipe Lopez’s colorful neon, metal and plastic wrap ceiling installation “Space is the Only Noise You Can See (Sculpture),” a major work in his show Ambiente Amore, which runs through August 24 at Clarke & Associates (301 E. 11th St., 713.254.2998).
Rewind to a pleasantly warm April day. In a stuffy classroom-turned-studio at MECA, Lopez is putting the finishing touches on the installation, which was commissioned by Houston art collector Lester Marks. “I didn’t intend on the plastic being beautiful,” says the 26-year-old Bronx-born Lopez of the piece. “I have a huge respect for art that most people would find ugly. But I … try to have the same type of dialogue with things that would be more visually appealing.”
Indeed, “Space” and the other works in his show — including hand-tied fishing lures encased in clear light bulbs, and a new series of richly hued landscape paintings, in which the colors of the aurora borealis are ensnared in fishing nets, or radiate behind thin sheets of metal — are all beautiful to behold. Yet each painting speaks to nature and its elusiveness, insofar as eyes, ears and hands are able to grasp. “Nature has its soul,” says Lopez. “We know it’s there, we know it’s visible, but we’re still being blocked.” And sometimes, that blockage is garbage humans throw into the sea.
MECA is where Lopez first developed his skills. After dropping out of school at 16, his mom enrolled him at MECA “just so if the courts called about me, she could say, ‘He’s getting his GED and attending these art courses,’” says Lopez. After two years of prodigious study under artist and educator Diana Muñiz, Lopez was showing at Wade Wilson Art. “Not having a traditional pedigree hasn’t limited me. I’ve always had a seat at the table.”
Marks, who Lopez describes as both a mentor and a friend, is showing a series of original photos at Clarke & Associates in a room separate from Ambiente Amore. Both an avid collector of and strong advocate for Houston artists, Marks has covered nearly every wall, corner and open space in his home with art. When Lopez first visited the collection, his life was changed. “I didn’t sleep for three or four days afterwards,” says Lopez. “It was the first time I realized I could create anything, and somebody who is just as crazy as me would want to live with it.”
Now happily married — he met his wife, musician-writer Meghan Hendley, at the Dallas Art Fair six years ago — and the father of three children under the age of four, Lopez’s star continues to rise, which means he has to work harder than ever. “Last year was a really big year,” says Lopez, “although I’m 10 times busier this year.” Not bad for a high school dropout whose life was changed through the power of art.
“When my parents’ neighbors are bringing them the Chronicle with photos of my light bulbs,” says Lopez, “they see this is real and tangible.”
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Self-taught Felipe Lopez and noted collector Lester Marks converge in the Heights for a well-rounded showcase. - By: Sarah Kennedy
AT CLARKE & ASSOCIATES, the pairing of Felipe Lopez and Lester Marks demonstrates the larger arts culture of Houston: a self-taught artist and a noted collector, both producing works that speak across generations and pedigree to joyfully commune with the viewer.
For his part, Lopez’s creative vision breathes across four separate series of painting, sculpture, and installation bound together by inventive use of netting. As a barrier both ephemeral and material, it visually and physically ties the space together. From the distinctly ecological sensibilities throughout the works, to the thoughtful craft-based touches of handmade fly fishing lures suspended in resin, or the custom-made cotton threads recycled from T-shirts, the intentionality of Lopez’s work is on full display. Tying the progression of four different artistic series into one cohesive show also expresses his intent to expand and grow upon himself. From the physicality of Ambiente Chandelier to the neon exploration within the Space is Only Noise That You Can See series, he is constantly self-referencing to iterate and evolve his craft.
In his curator’s essay, Raphael Rubinstein wisely notes the allure of water so deeply on display in Lopez’s overwhelmingly cool-toned paintings, invoking the shared attraction of artists such as Monet and Turner. The attention to water is wholly appropriate to the show, conveying the flexibility and materiality of a liquid medium translated to aesthetic experience. Speaking with Lopez in the gallery, he stressed the elemental integrity of water, seeing it both as the entry point for life incarnate and also the point of entry for the viewer. He further explained how he takes his motif personally, with a deep love and background of fishing, diving, and making fly lures. Growing up in the northeast and living here along the Gulf, Lopez clearly links his two geographic experiences through his ties to oceans, rivers, and lakes.
Tucked away in the back of the gallery, the altered, vibrant photography of Lester Marks focuses on the study of light—a preoccupation both artists embody in their art. Harnessing the effects of light as the direct tool of photography, Marks takes macro to the next level in these studies. The texturing and abstraction of the highly colorful, smooth works draw together and express the consideration of pairing these artists. In Marks’s photographs, aptly collected under the title Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, color is expressed at its most prismatic, with the blurred, indistinguishable edges within each work skewed into patterning and imbued with soft, sensual texture.
In both artists’ works, categories of landscape and portraiture are acknowledged and subsequently cast aside. With Marks, an object is seen and then exploded, dematerializing and re-contextualizing into a visual reverie. Conversely, in Lopez’s paintings, there’s a hint of landscape to the compositions in the series Space is Only Noise That You Can See, but the works have a subverted quality to them, unable to fit in a box—bowing to the parallelogram shape of the canvas, and alternating between recessed and emerging foregrounds. Together, these artists converge nicely into a well-rounded showcase engaging from first sight and evoking a sense of calm connection. Really, it’s hard to leave without noticing more nuance and vibrancy in the environment beyond the stark white walls of the gallery.
Felipe Lopez Ambiente Amore and Lester Marks Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, thru August 24. Clarke & Associates, 301 E 11th St. 713-254-2998. More info at clarkeassoc.com.
Saturday, May 5 , 2018 - Friday, August 24, 2018
Clarke & Associates
301 East 11th Street, Houston TX 77008
Saturday, May 5, 2018 6pm to 9pm
A solo exhibition that encompasses an extensive perspective of work from artist Felipe Lopez. It examines our relationship with the ambiance of water, nature, and how the two collide into memorable landscapes. This exhibition offers a refined retrospective of work over the past 4 years, including a plethora of pieces in various mediums from his Light Bulb Series, Ambiente, Flor, Ambiente Chandelier, and the most recent painting series Space Is Only Noise That You Can See.
The title Ambiente Amore speaks to how one relates to the immediate surroundings, to being completely engulfed in a landscape, and how our interaction with particular parts of water and nature can create a certain reaction or mood. Just as biologists study the effects of ambient light on plants, meteorologists report on ambient pressure, and acoustic experts try to engage yet control ambient sound, Lopez is constructing materials that once assembled, offer encompassing landscapes, a myriad of moods, and a place of reflective space.
Resin, hand tied fishing flies, fishing net, acrylic paint, neon, and more all morph together in collections of pieces that fully encompass their material to fill a viewer’s sight along with evoking particular feelings. The alluring qualities of the work will fill the space of Clarke & Associates, offering reverberated solace, colorful speculation, and alluring emotions. Lopez’s work invites interaction, whether that be physically touching the light bulbs in a sculpture, to emotionally being transported to a famous water landscape.
The exhibition will include experiential multimedia components that will provide an engaging sensory experience to the audience.
To schedule a preview of the work, please email email@example.com
Two series, including the new pieces from the series Ambiente Chandelier No. 3-5, will be featured at the Asterisk Project Booth at Scope Miami Beach 2017.
The 17th edition of SCOPE Miami Beach returns to the sands of Ocean Drive and 8th Street.
SCOPE MIAMI BEACH 2017 VIP SCHEDULE
Platinum First View
Tue | Dec 05 | 12:00PM - 4:00PM
Invitation or Platinum VIP card for entry
VIP | Press Preview
Tue | Dec 05 | 4:00PM - 8:00PM
VIP card holders and Press only
Wed | Dec 06 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Thu | Dec 07 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Fri | Dec 08 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Sat | Dec 09 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Sun | Dec 10 | 11:00AM - 8:00PM
Felipe Lopez's artwork will be featured on behalf of Cindy Lisica Gallery during the 2017 Aspen Art Fair August 4 -6, 2017 in booth A8.
For more information, visit www.art-aspen.com
‘Printmaking’ Sounds Boring; A New Exhibition Says Otherwise:
The Cindy Lisica Gallery in Montrose debuts an international printmaking exhibition with works experimenting with mixed media and even Instagram data.
By: Julia Gsell
Houstonia Magazine, July 2017
LAYERS OF HANDMADE PAPERS, fishing net and even Swarovski crystals make up just a few of the works on the walls in Montrose’s Cindy Lisica Gallery. Each work has been made by some process of printmaking—even though it might not be in its most traditional sense.
This exhibition, Fine Wind, Clear Morning, showcases work from seven artists from across the world. The title is a callback to the most traditional form of printmaking, referencing the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, who created famous woodblock prints of Mount Fuji and The Great Wave, with the latter now slapped on everything from shirts to scarves at The Met. Lisica says she chose this title for both its reference to traditional woodblock printing and the dreamy, fluid atmosphere it creates for a group show.
In the first series taking up the entire left wall of the gallery, Guyana-born artist Gavin Benjamin collages paintings and photographs on lacquered wood panels. Garnished with small crystals, these colorful representations of ball gowns, human busts and flowers lead into his next section, filled with decoupage blocks of flowers and beach scenes.
On the back wall, Deborah Nehmad overlays handmade Japanese papers on top of dip-dyed paper. Nehmad burns her papers with a heating wand, leaving unique burn holes in each work.
The largest piece in the gallery, Felipe Lopez’s, Embers of Land Reclamation, anchors the exhibition. Lopez is the only Houston-based artist featured in the exhibition and was inspired by his love for water for this piece. “The oceanic clean up process has so many metaphors people can instantaneously identify with,” he says. “Water is a protective resource, and we don’t pay attention to that.” Lopez used a piece of fishing net to create nearly 50 silk-screen like layers to complete his work.
Two paper prints by British artist Charles Uzzell-Edwards, or PURE EVIL, hang on the other side of Lopez’s piece. His signature teardrop drips all the way down and puddles on the floor to trademark his graffiti-style work.
On the right wall of the gallery, digital prints from Minka Stoyanova collage bright colors by swapping binary image data with images from Instagram. Stoyanova’s work comes to Houston all the way from Hong Kong.
If you look closely, you’ll see physical objects disguised in Jamie Earnest’s combination of painting and printmaking. After working on each print, she individually sews them onto a separate canvas.
At the end of the exhibition, Chun Hui Pak uses color and texture to depict origami folds of an iris. The same woodblock was used with each print, but different shading along different folds creates an entirely different image.
“With this exhibition, I really wanted to show non-traditional and hybrid work,” Lisica says.
EXHIBITION ON VIEW | FINE WIND, CLEAR MORNING
Opening reception: Friday, July 7th, 6-8PM
on view through September 2, 2017
CINDY LISICA GALLERY | 4411 MONTROSE BLVD. SUITE F, HOUSTON, TX 77006
Tel: 713.807.7760 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Hours: Tues-Sat 10:30-5:30
Cindy Lisica Gallery is pleased to announce a summer group exhibition, "Fine Wind, Clear Morning", as a featured venue in PrintMatters’ PRINTHOUSTON 2017. The exhibition’s title references a historic woodblock print by the famous Japanese artist Hokusai and sets the tone for a summer group show that brings together artists using both contemporary hybrid and traditional techniques honed via diverse backgrounds from street art to master printmaking. Unique works on paper, wood, and canvas are highlighted.
Participating artists are Gavin Benjamin (b. Guyana, lives and works in Pittsburgh), Chun Hui Pak (b. Seoul, S Korea, lives and works in Austin), Deborah Nehmad (b. New York, NY, lives and works in Honolulu), Charles Uzzell-Edwards a.k.a. PURE EVIL (b. S Wales, lives and works in London), Jamie Earnest (b. Birmingham, AL, lives and works in Pittsburgh), Felipe Lopez (b. Bronx, NY, lives and works in Houston), and Minka Stoyanova (b. New Orleans, lives and works in Hong Kong).
This group presents an exciting assemblage of new international artwork in Houston.
CAMH 2017 Gala and Art Auction
Time and Place
Friday, April 7, 2017
7 PM to Midnight
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006
Contemporary black tie
Valet parking provided
Schedule of Events
Cocktails Hour and Silent Art Auction
Sumptuous seated dinner by Jackson & Company
Live Art Auction with Christie's auctioneer Steve Zick
After Party with
Open bar featuring Casa Dragones Tequila and Equality Vodka
Music and dancing by DJ Souljah