FELIPE LOPEZ ART
Felipe Lopez: The Allure of Water
There’s a text by German poet Helmut Heissenbüttel (1921-1996) called “The Water Painter” which imagines an artist who creates his paintings not on canvas but on water, applying pigments to the sea, to rain puddles, to water-filled pots and pans. A fanciful meditation on the elusive and ephemeral nature of art, and, perhaps, on the ultimate futility of human achievements, Heissenbüttel’s parable is also a reminder of how frequently painters have been attracted to the subject of water. Think, for instance, of Monet’s Water Lilies; Turner’s tumultuous, atmospheric seascapes; Canaletto’s Venetian panoramas; Milton Avery’s seascapes; Jennifer Bartlett’s monumental works such as At Sea (1979), Atlantic Ocean (1984) and Sea Wall (1985) or, more recently, Peter Doig’s Grande Riviere paintings. Although Felipe Lopez is working in an abstract mode, his paintings and multi-medium sculptural works are no less deeply entranced by the domain of water. In paintings from the Space is Only Noise That You Can See series, for instance, the centers of the compositions open onto glimpses of luminous deep-water voids, while the painted grids that blanket these paintings also evoke water: they were created by the artist applying spray paint after covering parts of the canvas with fishnets. Actual fishnets show up frequently in Lopez’s work: in hybrid painting-sculptures where he drapes nets over the top of a painted canvas; in his “Chandeliers” where clusters of cast-resin “light bulbs” are attached to fishnets (handmade by the artist, who wasn’t satisfied with the nylon fishnetting available commercially) and in net-and-light-bulb wall hangings. The aquatic realm is also the source of the objects imbedded in the cast-resin light bulbs: fishing lures, again handmade by the artist, whose Cuban-American roots have bequeathed to him a deep connection to the culture of fishing, just as his residence in flood-prone Houston has surely influenced his subject matter. In Lopez’s art, the fishing lures and light bulbs work invite symbolic readings, but they also exist as real physical presences, not merely as images. A passionate engagement with materials and process runs throughout this young artist’s work. We can see this in his subtle combining of painting techniques (he will frequently use rolled-on paint, silkscreened motifs and spray-paint grids on a single canvas) and in his willingness to embrace new formats (evident in his recent neon-lit wall reliefs and sculptures). Like the aquatic element he so lovingly evokes, Lopez’s work is never at rest, always changing, relentlessly flowing into new artistic territory, making waves.