Opening: Saturday, October 12 from 7pm to 9pm
Artist Talk: October 26 from 5:30pm to 8pm
The idea of the tropics lies in our collective imagination in varying permutations from desire to degeneration. In recent years, the tropical as an aesthetic finds its way into contemporary culture as commodity – Monstrera plants, palm motifs etc. How does this renewed focus on the tropical bear on one’s own lived experience of growing up in the tropics?
“Hot Tropic”is a play on words of the (in)famous store chain known for selling kitsch and pop culture merchandise. “Hot Tropic” as a show is a means to resist the commodification of geographies by making visible personal experience. This show is a personal subsummation on this ideated “other” into an individual story of intimacy, power and humor.
The paintings in the show reflect a period of time in my life of moving past the loss of a relationship and exploring the possibility of a new one. The works reflect moments of hopefulness, fissures of connection, solitude and vulnerability.
In this show, heat is a variegated experience of color, locality and corporeality. The tropical landscape of home becomes a place of promise and belonging. Figures are huddled close in saturated colors, surrounded by the turbulence of water or vegetation. Nature becomes a symbol of power and the warmth of connection.
Besides the softness of love, there is also a sense of agency and mystery depicted in the figures – the female figure’s mouth is agape in the middle of speech, the bottom of her foot overhead amidst a background of smokey nothingness. These figures speak to my own desire to overcome a sense of powerlessness I have from time to time amid a world of uncertain futures.
Lastly, there is always levity – a painting of woman’s flatulence beside her lover, a crowded portrait amid a hellish heat. In my memories of home, no amount of humidity, traffic or heartbreak served as an excuse to not be with those we love. In the company of family and friends, laughter becomes easy. There is no perfection in love or humanity but we try anyway. – Mishel Valenton
Sense Gallery is located at 3111 Georgia Ave. NW. For more information, visit https://www.sensegallerydc.com/.