The side of a thigh, a flexed hand, the crook of a knee, a wrinkled palm, a dark tendril of hair: the close, cropped framing of Alejandra Moros’ paintings feels intimate and uncomfortable – unsure if we’re meant to be looking, and at what. Yet, their luminous surface; drenched in a bright, glistening light seems to invite us in, as if lit up for the stage and consenting to our fixed stare.
As the third participating artist on the PPP/Oostmeijer residency in Amsterdam, Ale found herself alone in a foreign city during the height of the summer. While previously looking to close friends and family members as the subject for her portraits back at home in Miami; this period of solitude forced a self-reflection, as she turned to her own body as the object of study.
Beginning her process with experimental images and videos, Alejandra has an ongoing relationship with photography. Capturing herself in her studio, she moves her limbs through different positions and movements – revisiting them later through crops and closely zoomed edits. Ale notes the artist Moyra Davey’s musings on photography in her book, Index Cards, as influential to this particular body of work. While Davey explores the relationship between photography and writing, Alejandra is exploring the relationship between photography and painting. We see the photographic techniques of cropping, enlarging and zooming being applied to her paintings; filling the canvas with increasingly abstract compositions of bodily fragments.
While Alejandra’s skilful blending renders the paintings almost photographic, her use of monochromatic colour undermines their realism. Lustrous hues of green, yellow, orange and pink cast over her paintings, likening these sites of wrinkled skin to candied fruits or petaled flowers. The works share a similar ambiguity with the artist Georgia O’Keeffe, famously known for her abstracted formations of flowers. While O’Keeffe’s paintings were interpreted as euphemistic depictions of female genitalia, a suggestion the artist continuously denied, Alejandra’s paintings feel more overtly provocative. Clothing is notably absent, and intimate moments of touch are given central focus. In Stomach, Side, the sensation of touch is heightened through the impression left by fingers on spongy pink surface, forming creases and folds that radiate from the site of contact.
The texture in Catch, Release (diptych) is similarly palpable, the delicate yellow grooves resembling the detail of a sliced sweet pepper. Alejandra’s attention to surface can be likened to the traditions of Dutch still life paintings that hang in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Executed with the same precision and intricacy, Alejandra lists Willem Kalf’s Still Life with a Silver Ewer as an artistic reference. Kalf’s detailing of each bump and bulge on a lemon rind is as pronounced as Alejandra’s microscopic pores, highlighted by a similarly stark and illuminating light.
Alejandra’s paintings are vulnerable and enigmatic, curious and suggestive. Comfortable with their resistance to recognition, the works are generous invitations into one’s intimate experience of corporeality; forcing us to reckon with what we think we see and accept that we might never be sure.
Alejandra Moros (b. 2000) was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and received a BFA in graphic design from the University of Miami in 2021. Shortly before graduating, she completed a residency with the Bakehouse Art Complex and presented a solo booth of work with Dale Zine at NADA Miami 2021. Since then, she has been included in various group exhibitions, most recently Ojos de Perro Azul at Marinaro Gallery and Life In An Ivory Tower curated by Jack Siebert, both in New York. Alejandra continues to live and work in Miami.
Written by Anna Eaves
Katja Farin’s painting pictorially explores the feeling of being out of place. While their work is informed directly by their own experiences, touching on queer identity and the politics of self and belonging, it also deals with universal feelings of awkwardness, surliness, and apathy. In a quasi-diaristic manner, Farin transforms these internal emotions into patchwork-esque, vibrantly expressed painting.
Centrally, Farin’s painting deals with discrepancies between the interior and the exterior through contrasting joy and misery in equal measure. Influenced by the despondency of Felice Casorati’s subjects and the emotional content of Marlene Dumas’ work, Farin’s characters (which are always, to some extent, based on themselves) are mostly solitary, and often forlorn. In contrast to their expressions, these ill-at-ease figures are painted with an intensely cheerful palette. With masterful and humorous self deprecation, Farin here communicates a discontinuity between inner world and outer, self and other, individual and community. Farin’s heavy use of patterns is also significant: they liken it to camouflage, granting their subjects the ability to ‘hide in plain sight’ as they absently crouch, sit, think and walk through their vibrant landscapes.
The residency in Amsterdam allowed Katja Farin space and time to develop central themes in their work. Of particular influence was the dutch urban geography, which structures many of Farin’s compositions, such as long stretches of canal, and inner-city detritus which pepper the canvases. The body of work from the residency also continues Farin’s liberal use of perspective in their work. In the manner of Gerard Garouste, Farin’s paintings take on the quality of carnival mirrors: their figures often have awkwardly large, small or long limbs, buildings skew mischievously, horizons stretch infinitely, and clothes dribble beyond their demarcated outlines. Here, the misbehaviour of the painting’s figures serve not only to explore themes of body dysmorphia and how we tessellate within the world, but also to gently probe the fabric of our social reality - along what axis do we differentiate between the real and the fake?
Farin’s work explores categories of chance, luck and manipulation through symbols that reference magic and the occult: levitating playing cards, dice, coins, and mice. In this context, Farin’s use of magical equipment hints at a desire for idealised outcomes, but also presents a darker edge: the potential for cheating, deceit, and manipulation. Describing their work as informed by growing up on the internet and the social landscape of Los Angeles where Farin lives and works, these charged motifs can be read as an anxiety about control and how we relate to the world.
Katja Farin (b. 1996) received a BA in Fine Art from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2018. Farin has gone on to have several solo exhibitions, in and around the US, such as Hum of Virtue, in Lieu Gallery, Los Angeles, 202, Lines From Arguments, Lubov NYC, New York, 2020, and Carry, Carries, Carried, in Lieu Gallery, Los Angeles, 2019. They have also exhibited in several group exhibitions, such as PAPA RAGAZZE! At Nicodim Gallery, and It’s a sad and beautiful world..., at Wilding Cran Gallery, both in Los Angeles in 2020. Farin lives and works in Los Angeles.
Written by Lydia Earthy
with a Silver Ewer, oil on canvas, 74 cm × 65 cm
Oil on canvas, 101.6 × 76.2 cm