Selected Press



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Heartbreak is at the root of Jorge Mayet’s latest exhibition Broken Landscape on view at Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York. Upon entrance the viewer is struck by a large upheaved tree, a hallmark of Mayet’s oeuvre and the repeated sculptural realization of this motif comprise his latest body of work. The uprooted trees fabricated from sponge, wire, papier-mâché, textiles and acrylics hang suspended in the gallery space creating an eerie hovering garden. At first glance the installation appears to be an ode to our current state of environmental decline. Through this perspective is comparable to Matthew Barney’s De lama lâmina installed at the Brazilian sculpture park Inhotim.

Barney’s sculpture is housed in a glass dome and has a stark white tree in the clamped grip of the digger that uprooted it – a blunt reminder of the forceful and detrimental relationship between nature and machine/human. However, although Barney’s work deals with an upheaval, Mayet’s deracinated trees serve as an allegorical self-portrait. Even though his work can be seen as a portrait of our time, it is very much a portrait of the artist; a Cuban living in exile in Spain and the uprooted sense of longing he feels as his experience of his homeland is but a memory. The trees appear in flux, a visual metaphor of how Mayet feelings towards his inability to put his own feet on his home turf. This mournful sentiment resonates as it is not exclusive to Mayet, but serves as a timely mouthpiece for the reportedly 65 million people in the world who have been forcibly displaced. The ethereal nature of the exhibition draws the viewer in, then upon realisation of the symbolism of these works it gives one cause to consider the broader dialogue these works speak to.

Some of the trees’ extensive root systems show just how embedded in their home they once were and infer the harrowing removal they endured. Works such as Demolición (Demolitian), take pieces with them, such as the fragments of masonry. These relics of a time passed cling to the web of roots like weighty tombstones. This allusion paired with the hourglass structure of the tree and its roots in a permanent state of abscission give it a ghostly quality, as if a spectre from a past life. In a way, that’s what they are to Mayet, shadows of his former life/self. Other works such as Se Jodió el Dominó (He Screwed Up the Domino) are in full bloom, instilling a sense of vitality. This work at the beginning of the exhibit is a charming landscape of magenta florals. However, as the viewer loops around the show and gathers a contextual insight into the meaning of these works, symbols of severance become apparent. For example, these works lack any sort of root system, as they are disjointed both physically and metaphorically from their homeland.

In the context of Mayet’s Cuba, they obscure the political strife in a veil of superficial prosperity of the society. The absence of a root system delineates the physical disconnect between what is shown and what lies beneath and articulates Mayet’s own personal history of exile. The title itself is perhaps an allusion to Mayet’s own experiences of nonconformity that led to his forced departure from his home. The show does have moments of optimism as seen in Y Llegó la Luz (Then Came the Light) in which a house with a working light inside sits alone under the shade of a tree on a piece of grass, bringing to mind the Wizard of Oz fable. It is hopeful in its title, referring to the relief that comes after a dark period. It still sings a song of solitude, but although these works are alone, they are alone together. This uniformity and attention to displacement, especially at this time of the global refugee crisis is a poetic expression of a heartbreaking experience. Mayet’s use of metaphor is both visually appealing and an appeal to viewers in the comfort of a New York City gallery to consider the detrimental nature of forced displacement on the self.  View original article here 

Hi Fructose


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 Jorge Mayet’s miniature floating sculptures serve as compelling metaphors for the artist’s complex relationship to his native country. Mayet was born in Cuba, yet has been living and working in Mallorca, Spain as an expatriate. Despite the circumstances, his sculptures are devoid of any intentional political statement. Instead, they explore the artist’s personal experiences with exile and displacement, and the powerful nostalgia for one’s homeland left behind. Crafted from painted sponge, paper mache, and fabric, the sculptures are suspended from the ceiling with fishing wire, which gives them the appearance of weightlessness. Trees look as if they were ripped straight from the earth, while thatched roof houses cling to the patches of land beneath them.

Decorated with feathers, banana leaves and colorful yarn, the structures reflect the geography of Mayet’s beloved Cuba as well as the spiritual and cultural practices of the Cuban people. For example, in “Y Obtala”, root systems are embellished with bird feathers in tribute to Obtala Santo, a god of the Afro-Cuban religion Yoruba. The trees may also represent the artist himself, forever bound to his homeland by birth yet severed by physical distance. Mayet was born in 1962 in La Havana and is a graduate of San Alejandro’s National School of Fine Arts. His early career focused mostly on painting before shifting to his current sculptures and installations. The artist recently told Gulf News, “Regardless of the medium I use, my work is about the never-ending need to express moments that have marked my past and influence my present. The majority of my life experiences come from Cuba. And these are the inspiration for my work. My installations are embodiments of my experiences. They remain indefinitely suspended from invisible wires, like the ones that connect me to my memories and my roots.” A selection of Mayet’s sculptures is currently on view at Richard Taittinger Gallery in New York through August 21.

Titled Broken Landscape, the exhibition is Mayet’s first major solo in the United States. The gallery’s press release reads: “[Broken Landscape] presents an anthology of remnants and collective memories; an interlacing of fleeting moments belonging to the artist and to the Cuban diaspora… the artist gives voice to the diaspora’s longing for the traditions, vigor and quotidian of Cuban life… Influenced by local lore, craft, and personal memory, Mayet’s work flourishes, reverently paying homage to the complexities and mystery of his homeland.” View original article here 

Time Out New York

JULY 12, 2016 

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Jorge Mayet: Broken Landscapes Nature is given a surreal lift in these sculptures by Mayet, a Cuban artist based in Spain. Three-dimensional landscape vignettes, and trees pulled from their roots, are suspended to created the illusion that they are floating in space. The results suggest memories that somehow elude the mind’s ability to recapture them. View original article here 


MARCH 22, 2015 by ZOE PILGER 

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Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America at the Saatchi Gallery, review: Two continents that deserve better “The long-awaited ugly painting competition had finally arrived,” writes Sheila Heti in her 2013 novel How Should A Person Be? A group of artist friends compete against one another for fun to create the ugliest painting possible. One of the artists feels “shame and self-loathing” at this wilful departure from classical standards of beauty; another wants to wash off the “dirty” feeling. Heti writes: “Was the winner of an Ugly Painting Competition the person who made the uglier painting… or was it the person who, though trying just as hard, made a painting that was inadvertently beautiful?”

Heti’s ugly painting competition came back to me while I was looking at some very ugly paintings in Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America, a new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London. They made me think about what ugliness can do in art. Horizonte en Cálma (2011) by the Mexican artist Alida Cervantes is a large painting dominated by the colour yellow: a woman in a sunshine-yellow outfit stands in what appears to be a desert village. The palette is airy, sandy, light. However, she holds a machete dripping with blood and castrated male genitalia lie at her feet.

What makes the painting truly ugly is the expression on the woman’s face: the shocked calm following an irreversible act of violence. She seems to be experiencing a weird sense of euphoria. Her eyes are green and glassy and her earrings look like tusks. Her cheeks are a carnival red. A lone black dog walks behind her.

Cervantes was born in San Diego, California, but she grew up in Tijuana, the Mexican border city famed for its drugs, gangs, and prostitution. Less publicised is Tijuana’s growing art scene. When she was a child, Cervantes’ family employed servants, so she was aware of the racial and economic hierarchies of Mexican society from a young age. This understanding has informed her painting.

Horizonte en Cálma appears on first sight to be little more complex than the pointlessly nihilistic art that Saatchi became famous for sponsoring in the Nineties. However, it manages to convey a mood of true injury; both the woman and the landscape are infused with a dreadful hurt. This can’t be achieved by an artist without a belief that things are sacred and must be protected.

The woman in the painting could be a prostitute who has murdered her john; she could be mad; she could not be a woman at all, but a transvestite, hiding from the police. All these possibilities are suggested by Cervantes’ half narrative. The aesthetic of bubblegum brutality evokes the Come to Mexico tourism ads of the Fifties. While the obvious victim is the man whose genitalia have been cut off, the woman is most likely a victim too. This implies a greater tragedy – the victim becomes the aggressor. What has happened to her to make her commit such an act?

Unfortunately, this was one of the few moments in the exhibition when I was engaged. Most of the work by the 18 different contemporary artists from two very different continents was underwhelming. The title, Pangaea, comes from the Greek words pan (“all, entire, whole”) and gaia (“mother earth”); it refers to a geological supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago and encompassed both Africa and Latin America. This is the second installment of a two-part exhibition.

Last year’s Pangaea I began with a huge installation, Casa Tomada (2013), by the Colombian artist Rafael Gómezbarros, which consisted of giant insects crawling all over the gallery walls to suggest the flows of migrant labour. It was impressive. Pangaea II tries a similar trick by beginning with a huge installation, Everything Must Go!, by the Martinican artist Jean-François-Boclé. It consists of 97,000 sky blue plastic bags, arranged together in a long rectangular mound, intended to symbolise the lives lost at sea during the transatlantic slave trade. Despite its bulk, the work doesn’t leave much of an impression.

What does leave an impression is a small sculptural installation, Entre Dos Aguas (2008), by the Cuban artist Jorge Mayet. It comprises a tree made of electrical wire, balanced precariously between two clods of earth. Stripped of all its leaves, both the branches and the roots of the tree are visible. Significantly, the span of the roots is greater than that of the branches, which breaks the symmetry of the object. It is beautiful and hopeful.

Mayet was born in La Habana, but lives in Mallorca, and his art is a reflection on roots and exile. He also draws inspiration from the ritual of burying offerings around the roots of trees, performed by the Yoruba slaves who were brought to Cuba from Africa. The tree is a symbol of what can withstand disaster.

I also liked Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha’s Nude VI (2012), which consists of three sunhats mounted on a mud-coloured canvas. At first glance, it looks like an abstract sculptural painting; up close, it might be a bird’s-eye view of workers in a field. It’s simple and charming. Confusingly, the catalogue explains: “Viewed from an angle, the protruding peaks of the rounded sunhats begin to suggest the physicality of human nipples.” This did not occur to me.

There’s a lot of work that’s much less interesting: Costa Rican artist Federico Herrero’s abstract paintings are childlike and repetitive; Colombian artist Diego Mendoza Imbachi’s vast graphite drawings of trees are a response to the industrialization of the rural area of Cauca where he grew up. They are bland and forgettable.

Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon’s painted woodcuts are more promising. Untitled (2013) shows three women in black, their flesh cut out of the wood, their expressions seemingly accepting of some absurd fate. One is missing a shoe, which according to the exhibition catalogue suggests “a loss of presence”.

The room full of ugly paintings seems to exert a strange magnetism, however, and I go back there. Next to Cervantes’ work is Handsaw (2009) by the Brazilian artist Eduardo Berliner. A woman wearing a black polo neck stands in what appears to be a park, ready to saw a huge turtle in half. Her dress and demeanor suggest she is engaged in some conceptual pursuit rather than straightforward sadism. One of the problems with categorizing artists by continent is that the viewer is encouraged to see the work as representative of a national malaise. Is the act of sawing the turtle in half a metaphor for the injustice of Brazilian society? Perhaps not.

Cervantes’ paintings do address Mexican history directly. She draws inspiration from 17th and 18th-century casta (race) paintings, a genre produced by the Spanish colonial authorities to show the consequences of mixed-race procreation. A typical casta painting would feature sixteen different combinations: for example, a Spanish man, an African woman, and a mixed-race child. This had clear racist overtones: by procreating with a woman of lower social rank, the Spaniard was thought to dilute his “racial purity.” Casta paintings were shown in public spaces to educate the populace.

The painting Máma (2010) by Cervantes is a disarrangement of the casta genre. The father is a white man with a brutish face who appears ready for a fight. His limbs are joined together like a doll’s. The mother is a Spanish woman in typical dress with seductive eyes. The child is mixed-race with an Afro. Together they look like a surreal assemblage of Hollywood bit-part actors, lost on a hot pink stage. The painting loses its power without the context of the casta genre, however. And the allure of ugliness can only go so far.

There is simply not enough good work here to fill nine galleries. Surely there must be better art to be found in two continents with such rich visual cultures.

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The National

JUNE 17, 2014 by ANNA SEAMAN 

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Cuban artist Jorge Mayet has first gallery exhibition in Dubai

Without even a single glimpse of his work, Jorge Mayet’s story is compelling. The artist, a Cuban exile living in Mallorca, Spain, has a photographic memory that allows him to paint photorealistic landscapes based on scenery seen years ago. He also is a sculptor, creating installations depicting uprooted trees that seem like a metaphor for his yearning for his homeland.

His work is currently on display at The Farjam Foundation in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Are the landscapes in your paintings completely fictional or do you draw inspiration from your surroundings?

The landscapes in my paintings are a combination of many things: the imaginary work is, of course, influenced by natural landscapes surrounding me. I am also aware that I have an ability to retain in my mind, to an almost photographic degree, a large portion of the different elements of which it is composed.

They are all a reference to your lost homeland, Cuba. Is this correct?

It is true that a large part of my work is nourished by memories and experiences from my homeland, but not all of my works are based on the Cuban landscape. I have retained the Cuban essence in my landscapes, for nature is a huge part of Cuban make-up and when interpreted it is romanticised in an almost mystical sense.

One of the most popular pieces in the exhibition is Cayendo Suave, a tree with many feathers tied to its roots. What was your inspiration and thoughts behind it?

Certain trees in Cuba are associated with symbolic mysticism, which comes from links with the Yorubic religion brought over from Africa by slaves. Many people pray and ask the trees for things through offerings, which they bury among the roots. These offerings used to sometimes take the shape of animal sacrifice and to interpret these ancestral rituals in my work I have used feathers, giving the piece an extra dimension, transforming it into a dreamlike vision and honouring the beliefs of my people.

Are they a metaphor for your own exiled position?

Maybe, subconsciously, I live like a tree pulled from its roots and in that way my installations are a metaphor for my life, but on a conscious level, I believe that we have to value each part of this Earth that belongs to us, because it is from she that we are able live.

Tell me about the technique in making the trees?

The technique is simple. I use electrical cables to construct the tree and its roots. The cable gives me the right amount of strength and support to construct the tree, as well as the flexibility to manipulate it. I then use papier mâché to give the installation its texture and shape and the paint gives it that final touch, which makes the pieces obtain such a similarity to reality. I buy the feathers because they are part-organic and therefore need to be treated and processed, but I also always make sure that they do not come from birds belonging to a threatened species or those in any danger of extinction.

This is the first time your work has been displayed in Dubai and it has been really well received – how do you feel about this?

It is indeed the first time my artworks have been displayed in this type of gallery and exhibition in Dubai, although I have shown my work at Art Dubai before through Horrach Moya, the gallery that represents me in Palma de Mallorca. I am delighted with the warm reception with the public. I think the people of Dubai must have a strong appreciation of nature.

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 Aiming to attract the same crowd and acclaim as international counterparts Art Basel and Frieze, the second-annual ArtRio opens today to the public. The Rio de Janeiro-based fair showcases the best modern and contemporary Brazilian artists, featuring internationally recognized talent like Os Gemêos, Beatriz Milhazes, Ernesto Neto, Nelson Leirner, and Tunga. A sure mark of its upward mobility: the gallery lords at Gagosian are showing in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time ever, with the largest exhibition space of any participating gallery. Our Rio correspondent Patricia Malfitano was on hand to document the work of the 1,000 participating artists; her favorite shots are after the jump.

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MARCH 18, 2011

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 Horrach Moya, única representante española en una renovada Art Dubai

La galería mallorquina Horrach Moya participa por cuarto año consecutivo en la feria Art Dubai, y lo hace en esta ocasión como única representante española. Esta circurnstancia se produce tras no acudir una habitual a este certamen como la madrileña Distrito Cuatro, que lo llevaba haciendo en las pasadas tres ediciones. Tampoco repite finalmente la malagueña Galeria JM, que se estrenó en la pasada edición. De este modo, España, que en las pasadas cuatro ediciones siempre había contado como mínimo con dos representantes, ha visto reducida su cuota de participación a uno sólo. Y esto ocurre justamente en la edición en que Art Dubai ha establecido un nuevo record de expositores, con 81 participantes de 34 países. Además, este año la feria de arte contemporáneo más importante de mundo árabe coincide en el tiempo con la celebración de una nueva edición de la Bienal de Sharjah, que arrancó el 16 de marzo y que extenderá sus actividades hasta el próximo 16 de mayo – ver artistas participantes-. Una de sus comisarias es Suzanne Cotter, nombrada en enero de 2010 por Richard Armstrong, director de la Fundación Solomon R. Guggenheim, como Curadora de Exposiciones del futuro Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Volviendo a Art Dubai entre las novedades que presenta esta quinta edición destaca su nueva directora Antonia Carver, que sustiye en el cargo a John Martin, que continúa ligado a esta feria como miembro de su consejo. Carver ha vivido los últimos ocho años en Dubai, en los cuales ha sido co-editora de Bidoun Magazine y directora de Bidoun Projects, una organización fundada en 2004 que goza de gran prestigio en esa zona y a la que sigue ligada como miembro de su consejo de administración. Además, forma parte del comité del Dubai International Film Festival, lo que la convierte en una gran conocedora de la cultura de este país.

En su primera edición al frente de este evento Carver ha conseguido que algunos expositores puedan mostrar trabajos de mujeres artistas que hasta ahora podían ser considerados arriesgados dentro de un país como Dubai, tan lleno de contrastes culturales. Así, a diferencia de los años precedentes, en esta primera edición que dirige Antonia Carver, se pueden contemplar obras combativas y provocadoras de artistas como la marroquí Majida Khattari, la egipcia Nadine Hamman, la paquistaní Shazia Sikander, la iraní Soody Sharifi, por citar sólo algunas. Asímismo, la nueva responsable ha conseguido que uno de los cuatro días que dura la feria -del 16 al 19 de Marzo- esté reservado en exclusiva a las mujeres y durante el cuál ningún hombre está admitido, aunque sean artistas o galeristas. Precisamente, alguien con experiencia en esta feria como es Juan Antonio Horrach Moya, director de la galería homónina, y única representante española, en un artículo publicado por el diario El País, referente a los cambios introducidos en la presente edición, afirma que: “Cuando vas a Art Dubai ya sabes que no puedes traer cualquier obra”. En esta nueva edición la galería mallorquina muestra en su stand obras de Adriana Duque (Colombia, 1968), Girbent (Sóller, Mallorca, 1969), Susy Gómez (Pollença, Mallorca, 1965), Jorge Mayet (Cuba, 1962), Joana Vasconcelos (Francia, 1971) y de la artista japonesa Yuko Murata (Japón, 1973).

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JANUARY, 2009 

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Jorge Mayet is a cuban born artist who exhibits his work extensively in Spain as well as galleries around the world. His artwork consists of small scale sculptural installation which are actually replicas of imaginary trees, plants and other natural objects, only miniaturized. the pieces stand only a few centimeters rather than many meters. But the works are not direct replicas, instead Mayet re-imagines the trees, removing the ground to show the roots or keeping the ground in a big clump. The works are made with electrical wire, paper, acrylics and fabric, which are combined to create realistic qualities.

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