Recently, the WSAC was very fortunate to host the wonderful work of Jessica Alazraki. Entitled “Celebrate Latin Life,” for one week, this consummate artist demonstrated her formidable painterly skills in our space. Alazraki depicted everyday human activities with a Hispanic flair, demonstrating humor to heighten this viewer’s enjoyment.
The artist hails from Mexico and her experience of that country’s rich heritage added its brilliant saturated colors to the subject matter, creating a festive sensibility. She told me her goal was not to create a political statement of marginalization in the pieces but rather, to use universal themes where she could apply her culture’s visual language, employing Mexican folkloric elements in bright colors, objects and patterns with the subjects’ expressive faces simultaneously referring to the “naïf.”
Alazraki studied at the New York Academy of Art and this training showed in her paintings, taken from both photographs and life as points of reference. Here, her first solo foray, she skillfully distorted the picture plane for her own purposes while counting such artists as Velazquez, Alice Neel, Kerry James Marshall, and David Hockney as sources of inspiration.
The artist’s background is in graphic arts and she has participated in exhibits such as the juried shows “Cut and Paste: Contemporary Collage” in Brooklyn and one at Sotheby’s to benefit the New York Academy of Art. In the Sotheby’s exhibit, Alazraki played with the Golden Section in a whimsical examination of mathematical theory. Along with other exhibits in New York City, she has shown her work in Mexico and on Long Island.
One of her paintings displayed at the WSAC, entitled “Waiting,” was a humorous study of the universal feeling of tedium passengers have as they wait in an airport lounge for instructions to board a plane. The artist amusingly treated her subjects by placing a glowing metal birdcage incongruously in the work’s foreground. This painting’s gestural elements in brushstrokes and figurative renderings of imprecise proportions juxtaposed with flat color applications around the subjects. Alazraki intentionally deformed classical perspective resulting in a pictorial tension that contrasted with the subjects’ looks of ennui.
The West Side Arts Coalition was truly delighted for the opportunity to grace our walls with Ms. Alazraki’s wide ranging animated pieces where the mundane was elevated higher while demonstrating simultaneously the joy of Latin culture. We look forward to future collaborations with this fine painter and anticipate many more successful solo exhibits for her.