Firelei Báez, Andrés García-Peña, Jean-Daniel Rohrer, Heidi Taillefer

Exhibition on view: May 4 - May 31, 2012

Translated from Spanish, “volver” means “to go back” or “to return.” Each of the works in the exhibition evokes a memory, a historical reference or a rich culture now lost. The artist’s unique connection to his or her own history takes us back even as we keep both feet on
the ground.

Please join us for VOLVER’s opening reception on Friday, May 4, from 6 to 9 p.m., held in conjunction with WE:2 Brooklyn Frieze Night, during which galleries in Williamsburg will stay open late to celebrate the Frieze Art Fair. An additional opening will be held Friday, May 11, from 6 to 9 p.m., to coincide with WE:2 Williamsburg 2:Nd Fridays. Musical stylings will be provided by Venus Frequency.

Firelei Báez was born in the Dominican Republic to Dominican and Haitian parents and lives and works in New York. Báez received her BFA from Cooper Union and her MFA from Hunter College. Her work has been exhibited in various national and international institutions, including the New Jersey City Museum, El Museo, The Cortona Archeological Museum (Cortona, Italy), The Caribbean African Diaspora Institute (CCADI) and in the Bronx Artist Biennial, BX1. Her work was recently featured in El Museo’s Sixth Biennial, “The [S] Files/The Street Files.” She was a recent resident artist in The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and participated in Aljira Center for Contemporary Art’s Emerge Program. She has received many prestigious awards including the 2010 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award, the Jaque and Natasha Gelman Award, and the Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) Award, among others. Her work has been reviewed in Art Nexus, Art in America, New American Paintings, the Pittsburg City Paper, the Studio Museum Magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. Her work is in the collection of Lucy Liu, El Museo, The TG Riese Collection and the Peggy Cooper Cafritz collection. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the LMCC Workspace, where she is completing a new body of work for her upcoming solo exhibition at the Sheppard Gallery in Nevada. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Colombian born painter Andrés García-Peña started his career in New York City as a muralist and part of the East Village art scene of the Eighties. Since then, he has lived and worked in Barcelona, and currently keeps his studio in Brooklyn. García-Peña has exhibited internationally, with solo shows in Colombia, Mexico, Sweden and Brooklyn. He continues to work in public art and has completed commissions for the Children’s Aid Society here in New York. The paintings currently exhibited are from the Revenge of the Bulls series. The series, initially begun in 1993 in Barcelona, Spain was sparked by childhood memories of a bird’s-eye-view from an Aunt’s balcony overlooking the Plaza Santa Maria in Bogota, Colombia. This latest iteration plays with notion of the bulls and bullies of Wall Street. The artist has incorporated vibrant colors and his brushwork has achieved a painterly gestural manner.

Heidi Taillefer’s work is an original creative fusion of classical figurative painting, surrealism, contemporary realism, and mythology combined with popular figurative traditions ranging from Victorian romanticism to science fiction. Born in Montreal, Quebec, she began drawing at the age of 3 at the encouragement of her mother who is also an artist. During 10 years of private art lessons as a child she developed skills mainly in watercolor, and was strongly influenced by surrealism, combined with a general interest in technology and biology. It was by the mid-80’s her work began to take on the markings of an obsession with technological development throughout society, whose imagery reflected what is now widely recognized as a growing hybridization of humanity with technology. Originally depicting subjects as machines placed in natural settings, her work acted as a nostalgic embrace of the past, as seen through the lens of a culture racing forward at high speed, fitted with massive technological advancement. While pursuing a degree in Humanistic studies at McGill university, Taillefer’s focus of study was the classics, which informs her work to this day as she parlays many mythological and cultural references into her paintings. Her art is consonant with some early 20th century surrealists such as Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, and Giorgio de Chirico. In the depiction of disparate mechanical assemblies set in parallel with aspects of the human condition, to the appropriation of meaning to objects which highlight subconscious preoccupations, or an exploration of the metaphysical as a dream-like parallel to this world, she also brings a contemporary spin to often classical icons.

Her work has been collected internationally, and she continues to exhibit in gallery and museum venues in North America while undertaking high visibility art projects with such companies as the Cirque du Soleil and Infiniti car company (Canada and Taiwan).

Jean-Daniel Rohrer was born in Tramelan, Switzerland and currently lives and works in Montreal, Canada. His work is evocative of the mystic tradition and his paintings are like memory maps. They are never caught up in a specific moment in time but instead play on the ambiguity of memory, history and our collective memory. Recent paintings allude to European history and Amerindian traditions and collectivize these in a way that treats the painterly surface as a field that can receive any number of potential meanings. His mixed-media creations employ the concept and image of the scroll, the original form of the sacred text. Runes and glyphs abound on his canvases — sometimes on his “parchments,” sometimes floating in the space of the periphery — as well as Latin letters and Roman and Arabic numerals that have been intentionally divorced from their usual functions. Irony is at play in his work: some of his ostensibly “sacred” texts are nothing more than pages plucked from the newspapers of his native Canada. Elsewhere he uses Catholic iconography to apotheosize the image. Underpinning it all are wefts of painted texture that rival those of the finest Persian rugs. The closer the inspection by the viewer, the richer the reward. Rorher’s work is widely prized, and his oeuvre is spread out in collections in Canada, the United States, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Russia. “The world that I paint, that I represent, gives me freedom to explore time. What I capture in my paintings serves as a chronicle in which the human figure is a conductive thread. It is the reflection of my heritage.”