Daniel Martin Diaz and Alexandra Bowers
Searching for the Celestial, Extraterrestrial & the Infinite in Between
La Matadora Gallery
August 14 – September 6, 2021
Indeed, his art resembles scientific charts with symbols and figures conveying relationships, spoken through a language all his own. Cross-sections of the human body, nuclei and celestial bodies all point to a fascination with micro and macro realms.
In Universal Sekret (all of Diaz’s works are from 2021), we see a schematic-like, planet-shaped diagram bordering Christ’s halved face, joining a network of capillaries connecting to extended vascular and botanical imagery. Underneath are the words, “To be human is tragic in this cosmic drama.”
Diaz’s dozen small and large-scale works are crafted with a combination of mediums: oil, gouache, graphite, ink, watercolor and grease pencil rendered on found paper and wood. Reminiscent of artifacts mined from a long-lost era, they embody a faded, old-world existence. Merging nostalgia with prophecy, Diaz bridges the ancient and modern worlds through questions like, “How might our use or mis-use of technology permanently alter the future of humanity” and, “What is our personal responsibility towards our effect on the world…?” Topping things off, there are also UFOs – a reminder that there is far more to ponder than only the human experience.
In the other half of the exhibition, Phoenix-based artist Alexandra Bowers draws inspiration from natural environments, with an acute eye for fleeting traces of living organisms (all of her works, 2021, except for Found Feathers, which is 2020). Known for her pyrography, her passion for old-school science and botany is immediately evident when gazing upon the plants and creatures branded into woodgrain. Rooted in the desert landscape, Bowers’ muses include birds, flowers, moths, feathers, bones and cacti, all gracefully rendered in fine detail with the inclusion of watercolor and wax pigment. There is a fragility and candidness to her subjects, which are portrayed in haiku that Bowers captures through sensitive observation. An avid hiker and nature enthusiast, she is constantly on the prowl for specimens, which she either photographs or brings back to the studio in a glass jar.
Also included are her installations of wooden disks organized like cells in a beehive; each their own entity yet occupying harmonious spaces together. In Found Feathers, the disks portray exquisitely realistic feathers floating mid-air, with watercolor adding subtle dimensions of color. These were referenced from photographs sent to her by individuals from various home environments during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Stand-alone works also on display feature imagery that is fixed on square woodgrain and are intimately tondo. In Desert Eden, a vibrant night scene of desert flowers is kissed by moths, butterflies and bees, as well as a slithery snake – testament to the balance found in symbiotic ecosystems. Bowers’ work, portrayed through the lens of an environment we often take for granted, ultimately has an underlying theme of spirituality and transformation.
Cover image, Universal Sekret; all images courtesy of the artists unless otherwise noted