Miguel Angel Payano Jr
Make Room Gallery
October 23 – December 4, 2021
Three Heads: Misdirect AKA G.O.A.T.
In pursuit of a consensus on the nature of reality, the artist makes use of family narratives that often portray parent and child or many expressive mouths in peach form. This dialogue extends into surrounding landscapes in which the human element becomes less distinct and backgrounds morph into foregrounds. One such example is seen in Three Heads: Misdirect AKA G.O.A.T. Here, a figure is composed of overlapping outlines that symbolize different realms. These outlines begin with an Earth scene of distant mountains and wispy clouds, succeeded by the dark nebulous cosmos, an orangy, Martian-like atmosphere, and finally, an obscure grey.
Good Union AKA The Cyclops
The figure’s face is undefined except for the eye and mouth areas, wherein Payano has placed a slew of juicy peaches adorned with their own set of enticed maws. The overarching figure, whose finger points upward towards a lone fly, perhaps contemplates more than its identity within the Earth’s domain, but also human significance within the vast and mysterious universe.
Good Union AKA Cyclops shows three forms: male, female, and cosmic elder, combined to create a single unit. Through this union, the transcendence into an evolved plane of consciousness appears to have taken place. With hands joined in prayer, the torso’s interior radiates the ethereal golden light of a rising sun. Hovering within the upper collective mind are more peach mouths that surround an all-seeing, resolute cyclops eye, while the background is strewn with clusters of foreign chops prattling off into the distance.
Xiao-Hu, A Bit of the Bun AKA Grandfather’s Words
Payano’s skill of fusing smooth and dimensional surfaces is distinct in his mixed-media wall piece Enchanté. A figure stares straight ahead at the viewer with crushed bottlecap eyes on an empty, blackened face that’s surrounded by faux shaggy hair. The character’s jacket, made from paper textures, is undone to reveal a smooth ocean scene and centralized tree, whose leaves and twigs jut forward. Below, a pair of life-like, porcelain hands extend convex, rosy peaches, enlivened with clay and ripe for the plucking.
With numerous details and layers to assimilate in Payano’s art – all requiring sensitive examination – his unique brand of surrealism, albeit one replete with subtle components, finally provides crucial clues to the intended messages, if, that is, they aren’t lost.
Cover image: installation view, Elusive Nature; photos courtesy of the author.