The end of a relationship can feel like an
emergency. Colombian artist
knows this well. In her new collection of understated, gestural
paintings and drawings currently on view at Bogotá’s Beatriz Esguerra Art
, in “911:
Recent Works by Catalina Mejía
,” she employs text,
wordplay, and images to convey the complex mix of events and emotions—despair,
emptiness, and, eventually, hope—bound up with the loss of love. The exhibition
opened on September 11, and its title references the enormous losses of that
terrible day, as well as the emergency calls to 911. With these associations in
mind, the artist’s compositions work on two levels: as intimate expressions of
her own recent experience of the end of a relationship, and as reflections upon
the universal human tragedy of loss.
Highlights in the exhibition include two powerful mixed-media
paintings, Fuiste flor de un dia and Tangle (both 2014).
Vertically oriented and shown side-by-side, these works feature a tumultuous melange of blue, grey, purple, and white brushstrokes, from which a sinewy black tangle of line emerges, and hovers in front of a pale, smoky ground. In
Tangle, a figure can just be made out in the smoke and haze. The figure,
who was once so present, is now shadowy and insubstantial, altered and
obfuscated by emotions, distance, time, and memory. Similarly, in the
smoke-on-paper drawing, You Are Fading (2014), a smoky silhouette stands in
for the lost love, with the phrase “you are fading” overwritten onto this image
of absence. In another drawing, The House is Burning (2014), an A-frame
house is engulfed in a raging fire. Here the searing pain of loss threatens to
destroy the now-broken home, and yet it remains standing.
There are subtler works in the exhibition, too,
like the delicate watercolor and pencil drawing, Limit (2014). In the
center of the white paper, dark smudges and brushstrokes resolve into the upper
edge of a waterfall under a moonlit sky, a picture of land’s edge. In the
composition’s lower right-hand corner, there is a cluster of words, some
reading “on the edge” or “limite,” as if to suggest that even the worst
catastrophe has a limit, and can be surpassed, and, eventually, overcome.