Cultural Undertow 👀

1989 Blake Ave Los Angeles, CA 90039
Jun 05, 6 PM - 10 PM — ends Jul 24, 2021
Luna Anaïs Gallery presents Cultural Undertow, a two-woman show curated by Narsiso Martinez, featuring Gloria Gem Sánchez & Tidawhitney Lek.
June 5 – July 24, 2021

Curatorial Essay:

One doesn’t have to go far back in history to see the oppression of certain groups in society and the exclusion of their voices in the arts. Take voices of women and people of color, for example, which have been severely underrepresented. Though at times they are objects of the western gaze in art, bringing out the rich perspective of women and people of color in art is long overdue. So when I was invited to curate a show at Luna Anaïs Gallery by founder Anna Bagirov-- Anna being the daughter of immigrants to the U.S. herself--I was inspired to share this platform and showcase work by female artists of color who present their cultures through their artistic practice in complementary ways.

In my pursuit to perpetuate the opportunities I’ve been given as a member of a minority group to realize my own artistic vision, artists Tidawhitney Lek and Gloria Sánchez came to mind. Considering medium and method, the two artists could hardly be more different. Lek’s artistic practice is rooted in traditional figurative oil painting while Sánchez’s work takes on a more sculptural form and makes use of experimental materials. Both approach their subjects quite differently as well. Lek, a first generation American born from Cambodian parents, offers us intimate depictions of often fantastical scenes from her life and family. Her paintings are at once deeply personal and universal, raising questions about human practices derived from cultural identities and how those can be unique and identifying or general and familiar. Leaving us to ponder similarities and differences across cultures, her work presents delicious details of family and traditions that ultimately indicate a humanity unified.

As narrative and pictorial as Lek’s paintings are, Sánchez’s more sculptural works take viscerality and creativity head on. Directly influenced by the materiality which is derivative of her Chicana-Filipina background, she includes found pieces of fabric, hair, corn husk, bamboo sticks, and shade snake skin, incorporating all by the act of weaving. With the labor of her hands expressed throughout her sculptural works, Sánchez honors the traditions of care and craft in stark contrast to the overwhelming volume of output that is glorified in today’s capitalistic cultures. With the use of recycled materials and ordinary objects, Sánchez shows how mass production seems unnecessary. Her work is a bold reminder of the importance of respect for the resources that go into creating and the importance of meaning over quantity consumption.

While one carries on the tradition of figurative oil painting and the other invents unconventional constructions as in Italy’s Arte Povera movement of the 1960’s, both artists bring us to consider how we are connected to each other, to the earth, and to our pasts.