"Icarus and the Fallen Angel" revives a collaboration between two Peruvian American artists, painter Patricia Arnillas and photographer Ana de Orbegoso, who were first inspired by one another's work more than twenty years ago.
Both artists draw upon traditional narrative—Arnilla's paintings draw upon Greek mythology; De Orbegoso's photos, upon Andean folklore—to investigate personal tragedy and artistic ambition.
The title of the exhibition references Icarus' fatal fall after a brief, reckless flight towards the sun. Both artists capture the wreckage. As the hero disappears from the frame, we are left with the outline of wings, the faintest trace of blood—evocative of both creativity and vulnerability.
Arnillas' paintings, shifting in tone, from warm and visceral, to icy and barren, investigate the fall from [or movement between] artistic grace into exhilaration and nihilism, freedom and obscurity.
Where Arnillas' is somber and elegiac, De Orbegoso is ironic and familiar. Her floating mosquitoes conjure the "man-moth" of Elizabeth Bishop's poem, itself a revision of the Icarus myth. The "man-moth," inclined to the moon, falls again and again, scared but unhurt, replenished by his own tears.
Where Arnillas' paintings capture the aftermath of disastrous want, De Orbegoso's photographs return us to the quotidian cycle of struggle and defeat, accumulation and loss. Her photographs also reference Ekeko, the andean household god of good fortune and plenty. This figure, often kept in people's homes in statue form, burdened with currency, foodstuffs, suitcases, and homes, must be sustained annually with a gift (usually a lit cigarette) so that he will continue to bring good luck. In De Orbegoso's photographs, Ekeko appears as a quotidian symbol of want or desire, not just for household necessities, but more elusive hunger, for love, creativity, and perfection.
Commissioned by Greenwich Arts Council
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