Traumas Rise to the Surface in Jorge Tacla’s Textured Paintings

In “Hidden Identities,” Jorge Tacla’s second solo exhibition at Cristin Tierney gallery, the artist presents a body of work that pulls the shades of memories into the light. A group of canvases, in blacks, white, blues, and greys, are made with oil paint mixed with materials including cold wax to create visceral, distressed surfaces that reflect on emotional and psychological disquiet. These tempestuous large-scale works are paired with delicate pencil-on-paper drawings that read like inspired annotations to the artist’s creative process.

Throughout the exhibition, Tacla groups architectural and object-based paintings into narrative pairs and triads, and arranges drawings into a grid. Bringing a strict order to the chaotic scenes, he represents the ephemeral qualities of time, trauma, and human emotion. “In the creative process there is no easy transition from the theoretical to the image itself. What one can see on the canvases are the traumas and insanity of the human condition,” he has said. “The materiality of these works refers to our own matter and the making of this skin, worked with cold wax, resulting in a sensitive and vulnerable place confronted with psychological and physical aggressions.”

Owing much to the physicality of Tacla’s process and the layered, rough nature of his surfaces, these works emit a sense of something traced and then lost in the blanket of memory. Images of people and places in varying states of psychological and physical collapse are covered by cool, deep colors, creating a palimpsestic quality that is repeated in the frantic scribblings of the works on paper. Rendered in monochrome, the almost-there imagery recalls partially destroyed photographic negatives, tied to a specific historical moment and yet also anonymous. Identidad Oculta 57 (2014) shows the remains of a war-torn city, fashioned through scrapes and stabs of paint and wax that reference the fractured complexion of a crumbling landscape.

In Identidad Oculta 28 (2014) dark lines and splatters of oil coalesce into a regal architecture, looming and ancient. Other works, such as Identidad Oculta 69 (2014), reference phenomena that lend themselves to full-fledged abstraction. Similar to some of his other textured grayscale paintings, this piece demonstrates Tacla’s ability to create dynamic art by manipulating material—ultimately presenting tactile, emotive compositions that reflect a dark perspective on the past and future of the human condition.


—K. Sundberg


Jorge Tacla: Hidden Identities” is on view at at Cristin Tierney, May 21 – Jul. 2, 2015.

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