In the Henry’s Myth series, my concerns focus on the architectural landscape derived from the colonial policies of modernization and development for Puerto Rico devised in Washington DC. At that time, they contrived an image which idealized a modern and progressive Island that would mitigate the social problems and cultural clashes of the colony and, at the same time, be an attraction for foreign investors in the areas of agriculture and tourism. The last governor appointed by Washington DC, Rexford Tugwell, who also served at the same time as president of the University of Puerto Rico, hired architects Richard Neutra and the German-American disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Klumb, among other local emerging architects, for the task of founding a Design Committee in charge of establishing the planning and development ideas derived from the political agenda of Washington DC. It is in Klumb’s work that I focus on this series and use his name as a polarized paradigm of his legacy, history and vision of a utopian, modernist tropical context, yet, at the same time, exploitative and enslaving.
I work with historical photographs that documented the architectural project and delve into the Island’s own history, to create an alternate narrative in a future time. The selection of projects oscillates between those iconic buildings that were built and those projects that remained in the proposal stage. Certain buildings contain a language of power because they are available only to the privileged sectors of the Island; while others are public institutions of great social importance, which are currently threatened by great interests.
I reconstruct the images with references and post-apocalyptic elements of the post-human dystopia built into sci-fi cinematography and fiction literature. Desolation, abandonment, failure and nostalgia that are themes within the Caribbean political context, and recurring in my work. I work the images in painting, developing a support with repeated layers of oil, wax and resin that I prepare meticulously in my studio. I wear down the surface, apply more pigment and repeat the processes to achieve a surface similar to that of the great classical masters. The surface is of particular interest, since I feel a need to overcome the real and tactile references and create a surface in which I am interested in reflecting the effort and human power of artisanal and hard work.
This series is articulated in a futuristic, idealized and dystopian scenario but showing a re-vision of the history of colonization and its effects in a contemporary aesthetic. History serves me to build that anachronistic imaginary of mythical scenes of desolate buildings, almost completely consumed with nature (designed as part of the construction project) that shows in its gut the human work of a past and a servile present. In these paintings, I try to present an architectural landscape of anachronistic perception within the political contradictions of a bankrupt colony but at the same time opulent underdeveloped in a framework of infinite promises. What remains in the painting is a portrait of the history of the plundering of poverty of the most disadvantaged inhabitants excluded from this paradise landscape.