In the most recent works by Jorge Enrique, the idea of beauty is at the center of the artist’s practice. While Enrique’s artwork of the last two decades communicated the irony that minimalist and abstract works could actually represent the deconstruction of an unforgiving cacophonous urban environment, and the gritty “truth” of graffitied texts and images could not be trusted, beauty in Enrique’s work has always been present.
Drawn to the intellectual spareness of abstraction and conceptualism, Enrique nevertheless uses a wide range of media – drawing, painting, silkscreen, monoprints, layered lifted images, sculpture and installation. And Enrique’s practice is very much concerned with materials – shaping wood, sheet metal, paper, paint, epoxy, and resin into complex objects that undermine the ordinariness of their materials. These works are deliberate palimpsests - artworks whose history can be seen through the eroded exposure of under layers, visible by erasing, abrading, scraping and layering. The complex physicality of Enrique’s surfaces recalls ideas of age, decay, re-use, hidden images, and layers of meaning.
Enrique’s art both questions and embraces the theoretical dialogue of postmodernist works. His most recent works have a finished balance and a formalist elegance. With rigorous attention to line, symmetry, surface and texture, while experimenting with scale, serial repetition, color and reflection, these artworks encourage the viewer to revel in the layered, gestural complexity of paint and surface, the concept of beauty, the role of beauty in culture and society, and its presence in contemporary art. Enrique’s series “Metallic” blurs the distinction between image and object, and between painting and sculpture. Enrique’s paintings and sculptures are the culmination of decades of making art about ideas. They are part of Enrique’s art history – steps along a trajectory from conceptual projects and text-object works to paintings that resonate as culturally loaded signs. The polished complexity of Enrique’s paintings and the linear, snaking nature of his sculptures set up a tension between object and void. Their repetition when installed in groups owes much to the influence of minimalist work from a half century ago. These works explore the synthesis of opposites: controlled and spontaneous, rational and intuitive, represented and real, truth and fiction, permanent and ephemeral. They combine the purity of abstract visual experience with the primal exuberance of saturated color, glass-like glimmering surfaces, and flashes of metallic reflection.
For all their beauty – whether deeply subsumed, layered and abraded paintings or twisting, attenuated painted sculptures – these artworks offer the viewer more than meets the eye.
Wendy M. Blazier