It’s natural for most critics as well as the general public to categorize various forms of art. Giving labels to artistic expression can be helpful when it gives context to the work in terms of how it’s presented and analyzed, and for that matter, even marketed. But art doesn’t always fit into neat clear-cut categories and this brings to mind the artwork of Arturo Reyes who currently has an exhibition at the Triple R Gallery in Portage Park.
What makes Reyes’ work so inimitable is not only his use of color and texture, but how he combines elements of abstract expressionism, impressionism and magical realism. On display are 20 works that showcase his mastery in mixed media, watercolors and acrylics.
When looking at his art, the viewer is easily drawn into the scenes he creates. In his landscapes, such as Blue Trees and White Storm, we enter a magical realm where we cannot help but feel a sense of child-like wonder and joy. He allows us to glimpse into this other world, an enchanted environment, where sprites and elves can come to life. But although Reyes creates these other-worldly views, his work reminds us that these very scenes are there for us to see if we allow our senses to open up to the splendor that is all around us.
Another work that explores Reyes’ whimsical side is The Giving Hand—a mixed media work—where he addresses ecological issues. An outline of a large hand in the foreground merges with elements of nature, reminding us that we need to be guardians of this planet. There is a dream-like quality to this work as we see a butterfly, a fish and a faerie floating about in this scene that is reminiscent of Chagall. In this work, Reyes seems to remind us that in order for us to be true caretakers on this planet, we need to experience a oneness with nature.
Also worth noting is his Abstract Floral series that comes to life through his subtle use of colors. These works capture how nature is in a constant state of flux—what we see now will change within hours if not minutes. There is also a raw, joyful energy in this floral series as he creates shapes and patterns in an abstract design.
While a number of his works portray natural settings, Reyes also addresses social issues such as in Equality and I am Woman. But Reyes doesn’t try to convey his message in a heavy-handed or preachy manner. He explores gender and racial issues in a contemplative way that invites the viewer to take the time to reflect on social/political issues that women and people of color are now facing. It is interesting that in these two works, there are no facial features on the women. This choice seems to emphasize how women’s issues are often dismissed and how they are viewed as an invisible entity in this world. There is also a portrait of Frida Kahlo—at first glance she appears downcast as she seems to brood about world events, but when taking a closer look, we see she is also a woman of resilience and strength. Reyes captures Kahlo’s indomitable spirit through his vibrant use of color.
Another intriguing work is Marilyn, which is Reyes’ tribute to Marilyn Monroe. In this work, Reyes doesn’t portray her merely as a sex symbol, but rather as a woman of depth in terms of her intelligence and spirit. In this work, he frames her figure in a golden light, creating a spiritual aura about her. Her lack of facial features shows how she wasn’t taken seriously as a woman in the movie industry and how her true identity was never seen by the public.
The strength of this exhibition is how Arturo Reyes shows us that we all can experience a sense of magic in our lives if we only take the time to stop and look at the world around us. His work also raises our awareness about social issues that need to be addressed.
This exhibition will run through October 29. Triple R Gallery is located at 5031 W. Montrose Ave. Hours are Wednesday through Friday from 12pm-5pm and on Saturday from 10am-5pm. For more information visit their website or call 773-960-1998.