Peres Projects, Berlin 

Sept 13 – Oct 25, 2019 

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Press Release

The work of the Mexico-born artist finds spaces of ambiguity and duality for identity. Their practice, predominantly in portraiture, inserts and interprets the artist into depictions of characters from popular culture or figures from their childhood in order to explore the messiness and proximity of culture and selfhood.

For the exhibition Portraits, the artist has created a series of new works on canvas that continues their engagement with problems of identity and subjecthood. They have been working with new materials to develop these works – using oil pastels smudged with their fingers over an acrylic paint background, on canvas.

The characters in this exhibition do not figure under a unifying theme or have anything in common other than that they have struck the artist in one way or another. In this sense, the body of work produced for this exhibition demonstrates the conditional and relational nature of identity – that the subject is comprised of the many people in ones life.

"I have portrayed several people in this series who are close to me but whom I have never seen. Damien, for example. I met Damien at the opening of the first show I had after going blind, just a few months after I became blind. We became friends and I knew only vague basic details about his appearance. That he was a ginger, that he had muscles. I never wondered much about his appearance or gave it much thought back then. Then we spent some time apart when he moved back to the US, but later he came back to Mexico City for a short holiday.

Hanging out with him again, I realized how much I liked him and how much we seemed to enjoy each other’s company. I started noticing something else. When we were walking together, me taking his arm, I could feel and smell his breath close to me as we spoke. He was looking at me, turning towards me, during conversation. I guess that indicates or harbingers intimacy in a way.

I started listening for his smile, and noticing his smile was frequently on his face.

I fell head over feet in love with him over the course of the three days that followed. Even now, years later, when I think about Damien, the image that comes to my mind is him smiling broadly and kindly. I found it very beautiful that I could know somebody’s smile without ever having seen it.

Someone I showed a photo of the portrait of Damien said he looks loved. In that sense at least, I guess I’m a better artist than Frida Kahlo, because looking at her portrait of Diego Rivera you wouldn’t feel like he was a particularly loved man.

I mean, it’s not like the sound of Damien’s voice is all I had for a reference to portray him. By now I’m very familiar with his facial hair or the shape of his nose, for instance. Or the gap between his front teeth. But I knew his smile and had a mental image of it long before I ever kissed him."

Manuel Solano, 2019

Portraits, Installation View  
Damien 2, 2019 
Portraits, Installation View  
Portraits, Installation View  
Johnny, 2019 

Courtesy of Peres Projects, Berlin
Photographer: Matthias Kolb

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