CONCRETE JUNGLE: Divas
Magnan Metz Gallery is proud to announce Sofia Maldonado’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. Concrete Jungle Divas will be on view from June 18 – July 17, 2010. The artist reception will be held Thursday, June 17 from 6-8pm with complimentary drinks by Medalla Light.
Maldonado works in an aesthetic inspired by the crossroads of youth and street culture, fashion trends, and naturalistic forms – a vision she explored through the numerous murals she painted across her native Puerto Rico in the early 2000s. Fresh off her 42nd Street Mural in Times Square that explored the beauty and diversity of Caribbean women in New York City, Concrete Jungle Divas delves further into issues of power and femininity across cultural lines. The exhibition brings to life the multi-talented female recording artists Beyonce, J-Lo, Lady Gaga, M.I.A. and Rihanna. Painted on shimmering gold backgrounds that evoke the flashy exuberance of bamboo shoot earrings, the likenesses of each superstar take center stage on their own 7 x 3 ft canvases. The divas represent their unique styles and cultural backgrounds, yet on a broader scale serve as icons of the multi-faceted female identity: provocateur, sex symbol, workaholic, artist, fashionista, diva.
Concrete Jungle Divas also explores the artist’s fascination with the beauty of tropical forms. A series of diptych and triptych canvases reveal abstracted views of the Caribbean—scenes that fuse reverie with memory, often exploring places that exist only in the artist’s imagination. While equally striking, Maldonado’s landscapes serve as a foil to the large gold diva portraits: as the artist explains, “in New York City, beauty equals physical fashion and in the Caribbean beauty is in the simple things, such as the jungle.” In order to fully submerge the audience in this ambience of tropical beguilement, Maldonado has created a floor-to-ceiling mural characteristic of the drip clouds that recur throughout her work.
A third part of the exhibition focuses on the urban environment as a source of inspiration. Taking her cue from underground female pop and hip-hop singers who use the “street” as their aesthetic, Maldonado transforms their visceral energy into a world of possibility for city-dwelling girls. An apartment facade painted around four canvases of young women evokes a feeling that they are peering out from behind the building’s windows; they seem to await their moment to emerge into the spotlight. The adjacent wall displays ink drawings of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn where the artist lives.
Sofia Maldonado was born in Puerto Rico and received her MFA in Painting from the Pratt Institute, NY in 2006. Maldonado's most recent public mural projects have been presented by The Times Square Alliance and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, NY (2010); Real Art Ways, CT (2009); 10th Havana Biennale, Cuba (2009); Graphopoli, PR (2007) with exhibitions at Whitzenhausen Gallery, Amsterdam (2010), Taller Puertorriqueño, PA (2009), Queens Museum of Art, NY (2009) and Graffiti Gone Global, FL (2009). In 2011 she will have solo exhibitions at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, Winterpark, FL; Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD; and a group show at the Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL. Maldonado has given lectures and taught community workshops where she engages with the community and often has the youth community participate in her projects.