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Enrique Martínez Celaya: Burning as It Were a Lamp

Enrique Martínez Celaya working on Burning as It Were a Lamp

Enrique Martínez Celaya working on the wax mold for the central figure of Burning as It Were a Lamp. Courtesy of the Artist. 

Installation detail of Burning as It Were a Lamp. Courtesy of the Artist.

Installation detail of Burning as It Were a Lamp. Courtesy of the Artist.

Hood Museum of Art Features New Martínez Celaya Installation

The Hood Museum of Art is delighted to present Enrique Martínez Celaya to the Dartmouth and local communities with the exhibition of his most recent work, Burning as It Were a Lamp (2013), on view for just five weeks this summer, from July 12 through August 10. Burning as It Were a Lamp is an experiential environment consisting of a few simple elements—two paintings, a bronze boy who cries into the basin in which he stands, and several mirrors. The nature of the work unfolds as the viewer enters the gallery space and is only fully revealed when he or she is surrounded by the mirrored walls of the space. Martínez Celaya will be in residence for the month of July at Dartmouth as a Montgomery Fellow, meeting with faculty and students and beginning work on a future site-specific commission for the Hood Museum of Art. Please join us at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, July 15, in the Hood Auditorium for Martínez Celaya’s public Montgomery Endowment Lecture, titled “Five Projects since Schneebett,” about his work and practice; a reception will follow in Kim Gallery. Please also join us at 12:30 PM on Tuesday, July 22, for a public gallery talk by the artist about his installation at the Hood.

The theme of the mirror, and the self-reflection it provokes, recurs throughout Martínez Celaya’s work, and in this case is embodied not only in the physical mirror but also in the pool of tears at the boy’s feet. The artist writes of his created world in Burning as It Were a Lamp that its use of “repeated, intertwined, anachronistic images announces our uncertainty as well as our fragile and limited apprehension of ourselves and the world in which we believe ourselves to be. The reflected burnt angel [in one painting] and crying bronze boy are phantom consciences whose existence echo[es] ours, and so as we interact with this reflected world our own dissolves.”

Enrique Martínez Celaya’s art draws upon the individual’s relationship to place, and the effects of isolation on one’s sense of identity. Martínez Celaya, who works as a painter, installation artist, filmmaker, and writer, did not begin his young adult life in the arts but in the sciences. He majored in applied physics at Cornell University and pursued a Ph.D. in quantum electronics at the University of California, Berkeley, with a fellowship from the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Just before completing his degree, he turned back to something that he had started while living in Puerto Rico—painting—and he has been creating ever since. He received a Skowhegan Fellowship to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and earned an MFA with the department’s highest distinction from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was supported by a Regents Fellowship and was a junior fellow at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center. Martínez Celaya was honored as the second Presidential Professor in the history of the University of Nebraska and taught as a tenured professor on the faculties of Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University. His work has been widely exhibited internationally and is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the State Hermitage Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, and the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig, among others. He has received the National Artist Award from the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the California Community Foundation Fellowship, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for Visual Arts, a Knight Foundation Grant, and the Young Talent Award from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This installation of Burning as It Were a Lamp was organized by the Hood Museum of Art and generously supported by the Harrington Gallery Fund.

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