RENÉ TREVIÑO, Centrifuge, Pentimenti Gallery
“History is subjective; there are so many blurred lines and so much distortion. Context and point of view is very important, one person’s hero is another person’s villain…it depends on who tells the story. As a gay Mexican-American I have always felt excluded and under-represented by history. By working from old photographs and using history as a backbone for a lot of my work, I can reweave these “lessons” of the past. My work is an attempt to make our already complicated history even more complicated…the more layers that I present, the closer I can get to something that might resemble truth.” – RENÉ TREVIÑO artist statement
I thought the round paintings on paper were prints but they’re not. The series of paintings based on a round motif are based in historical references, psychological memes and meta-magical symbols. I talked with Baltimore based artist RENÉ TREVIÑO at his opening at Pentimenti Gallery in the Old City art district in Philadelphia. I asked if they were prints?
“No, these are paintings. I don’t make giant expressionistic works, they have to be like this, kind of slow.”
Tell me about your inspiration while you’re painting. What are you feeling?
“A lot of different things but I think it started kind of haphazardly. I was painting this Aztec calendar, I’m Mexican from Texas, so, I have a huge Mexican family back in Texas, and the symbol of the Aztec calendar was always in my head. It’s ubiquitous there, you see it on bumper stickers, on people’s T-shirts, you see it everywhere. But when I actually saw the real Aztec calendar when I went on a trip to Mexico City, the real one is such a powerful experience. I think that was in 2004 and I’ve been painting it ever since. It’s this round, circular form that’s made of discs and glyphs, there’s all meaning and weight of history to it that I really appreciated. So I think that this round form, because I’ve been painting it so long, it became interesting to me to find all these other round forms that are loaded with history.”
Are they based on a kind of cultural DNA, round forms like the Moon and other forms in Nature?
“Absolutely, it was fun doing the painting of the Moon, doing the painting of the surface of the Sun. Actually doing the Aztec calendar, the center figure is their Sun God. So I thought it’s a nice grouping. We’ve got the disc from the Native American’s in the Mississippi area. Again, it’s sort of loaded with this history. You’ve got the face of Phaistos Disc which may or may not be a real legitimate archeological artifact, these architectural things that were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century and they may not even be real. They might be fake, they might be hoaxes that were planted by the archeologists. But, they are sort of similar to the Aztec calendar. If you go to that area you see bumper stickers and jewelry based on the disc. I liked that it became this thing that they’re all the same but they’re all different. I like thinking of them as constellations or planets all encircling one another.”
That is so cool, it takes the idea and bounces it from one thing to another and to another, like the disc.
“Yeah, it feels like the way constellations and the solar system works. We’re all orbiting bodies and hopefully I’m hitting on some of that.”
‘Pentimenti Gallery opened in 1992 in the heart of the Old City Cultural District. In 2004, Pentimenti Gallery relocated to the former Casani Candy Company premises. In this historical building, Pentimenti Gallery has preserved its industrial appearance. The gallery includes Gallery one, Gallery two, a Project Room and an office/meeting space.’ – Pentimenti Gallery
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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