Here's a problem in art for you: how do you make a picture of a man?
A clearer way to phrase it: how do you make a picture of A Man? Which is to say - not this man, some particular man, nor Man, the abstracted category. Rather, a picture of an everyman, a man who could have arisen from some specific person, but is no longer him alone. Now he could be anyone, and might stand for everyone.
This is an extraordinarily difficult problem. Most solutions to it feel like a put-on, with something pretentious or puerile about them. And yet it is an image which sometimes I think we need to see.
Some of the work in Sergio Gomez's It Feels Like I Was Already Here strikes me as achieving this elusive goal. There are men in his paintings, but the images are distressed. The texture of his distressing - his spots and drips and scrapes - accomplishes two things. On the one hand, it strips away the individuality of his figures, erasing whatever specific identities they once had. And on the other hand, the distressing fills his figures. Instead of becoming blank abstractions, they retain dense traces of thought, action, and life. They continue to be full people, and yet which particular people they are is indecipherable. They have returned to an elemental human substrate, prior to the world and the people we see around us.
In a formal sense, I find these paintings very beautiful: their limited palettes and stately, centered compositions are balanced by the vitality of their marks. And in a moral sense, I find them extremely satisfying. I sometimes need to see a painting of A Man. I need a painting to present the problem of myself to me without being too pushy about what the mirror shows.
It Feels Like I Was Already Here: Sergio Gomez Solo Exhibition
Exhibition Dates: August 19 to September 10, 2016
Location: Zhou B Art Center 1029 W. 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609
Acquired Identity, charcoal on paper, 90"x50"
Healing #1, acrylic and charcoal on paper, 82"x42"
Searching in the Field of Light IV, acrylic on canvas and paper, 59"x36"
Tierra, acrylic on paper/canvas, 90"x64"
Aire, acrylic on paper/canvas, 90"x64"