Anthony Goicolea


Goicolea confesses to feeling “a strange sense of nostalgia for something I have never been a part of or experienced directly.” In May of 2008 he made his first pilgrimage to Cuba visiting the homes, schools and churches of his parents and grandparents. The resulting photographs are constructed landscapes devoid of people, populated only by vegetation, architecture, telephone poles, and strung lights. Digitally composed from images of locations throughout Havana, Goicolea further manipulates these works by staging performances and scenarios in these settings, thus re-imagining and re-imaging the remains of another time.
In similar vein, Goicolea also refashions his own familial history in a series of portraits after old photographs of Cuban family members. By drawing and painting these portraits as busts placed behind glass high on make shift pedestals, Goicolea preserves and honours his family while simultaneously placing them just out of reach. He creates a reinterpreted, second-generation reproduction of their likenesses, which directly confronts the sense of disjunction between a supposed mythical homeland and his estrangement from it.
The work Goicolea first became known for exuded a playful narcissism. However his oeuvre is more recently marked by an earnest, almost wistful search for roots or connections to his past. Here, as in his multiple self-portraits, Goicolea is exploring his identity; only this time he approaches it from a poignant awareness of the cultural ingredients and familial history that make us who we are.
Anthony Goicolea has had solo exhibitions at Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Galerie Aurel Scheibler in Berlin, Haunch of Venison in London and Sandroni Rey Gallery in Los Angeles. His works were included in exhibitions at The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, Guggenheim, Whitney museum, MOMA in New York, MassMOCA, Miami Art Museum, and North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

ABOUT Anthony Goicolea

Anthony Goicolea (USA, 1971) is a first-generation Cuban American artist. He grew up in the Deep South of the United States of America, in the midst of the Cuban refugee crises, coupled with the advent of the AIDS crises, and the rise of the religious right. Goicolea was socially stigmatised for being Cuban, gay, and Catholic. These circumstances brought about a heightened awareness of social constructs, and the changing nature of identity in politics – a theme that continually influences his work. Goicolea explores themes ranging from personal history and identity, cultural tradition and heritage, to alienation and displacement.

The backbone of Goicolea’s practice is painting and photography. The key process of painting is a combina- tion of inks, paints, graphite, and enamel applied directly on layers of Mylar. By painting front and back layers of semi-translucent frosted Mylar lm, he adds and subtracts areas of varying opaqueness.

In the series “Anonymous Self-Portraits” displayed at Galerie Ron Mandos, Goicolea paints sexually ambiguous gures caught between various states of dress. Many of the faces are obscured by large elds of white oil paint, roughly corresponding to shifting shapes of clothing. These architectural shapes abruptly divide the body and simultaneously conceal and unveil key components of traditional portraiture. The identity of each sitter lies in the body language and gesture rather than on facial recognition. The feature of a gnarled hand, a twisted arm, or a hunched shoulder are the identifying factors that characterises each (seemingly) anonymous portrait as that of an individual sitter with his own unique, personal identity.