Pepe Mar: Rising Sun
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art’s seventh annual Atrium Project, Pepe Mar: Rising Sun, features a monumental fabric painting by Miami-based artist Pepe Mar (born Reynosa, Mexico, 1977). This installation highlights the signature fabric featured throughout Mar’s recent practice—a medium-weight textile printed with images sourced from his 15-year career archive—stretched across the expanse of the main atrium wall.
During site visits to Kemper Museum, Mar researched the Permanent Collection and encountered Rising Sun (1958), a work by modernist painter Hans Hofmann (German American, 1880–1966). An example of abstract expressionism, the painting is composed of swaths of bright colors—oranges, blues, yellows, and greens—applied gesturally upon the surface of the canvas, creating irregular shapes with defined and unblended boundaries. Hofmann’s juxtaposition of discrete colors in many ways mirrors collage practice, where elements are brought together but remain distinct. It can perhaps be said that Hofmann collaged paint, resonating with Mar’s collaging of his own archive across his fabric works. Taking inspiration from Hofmann’s technique and palette, Mar stained the fabric to approximate the colors of Rising Sun. In so doing, Mar creates a place for himself in the lineages of art history and addresses his own stylistic and material inheritances.
As part of the Atrium Project installation, Mar has also created a new large-scale assemblage work depicting the newest iteration of the artist’s “Paprikas”: characters, or alter egos, that recur throughout Mar’s works. Their bodies, made from the influences that surround Mar in his studio and objects culled from antique and thrift shops, reflect the artist’s Queer, Latinx experience. Pepe Mar’s work is a layering of histories and materials capturing his overall ideas in a single monumental installation.
Pepe Mar: Rising Sun is organized by Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, curated by Erin Dziedzic, director of curatorial affairs.