San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Four Different Artists, One Unique Exhibit

Bright, oozing colors. Contorted faces melding into odd animal bodies. Vivid assemblages of familiar icons. A video journey of plastic bags. The newest exhibit at San José’s Jacob Karpio Galería brings together four artists with four distinct styles and mediums for one show, unified by thought-provoking pieces.

The exhibit, entitled “Cuatro – Solo Shows,” contains selections from artists Heide Trepanier, from the United States; Guillermo Tovar, from Costa Rica; Donna Conlon, from the United States but a resident of Panama; and Eric Martinet, from Argentina. While no concrete element officially links the four artists in the exhibit, each body of work evokes a thinking participation from the viewer.

In Trepanier’s show entitled “How to Eat a Lullaby,”made up of paintings and an enormous installation, the viewer finds a bizarre universe of bright, oozing, living color.

Through the use of controlled drips of paint, Trepanier creates scenes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss landscapes, with similar solid colors stretched and glopped into characters, machines and worlds that are unrecognizable, yet unmistakably living.

“Drips become characters that play out feelings of fear and greed as well as ecstasy and joy,” Trepanier says about her paintings. “Most reference prosthetics (as paint) and machines, or props of human behavior.

These prosthetics are psychological in nature, and do the things that I cannot; they act the way I may like to but wouldn’t dare.

They misbehave, throw up on each other, have orgies, rip each other apart, become divas, destroy small towns, ride waves of paint and produce other worlds.”

Guillermo Tovar, the only Costa Rican artist represented, presents a show of recent works on paper under the title “The Game of the Cautious Ones.” According to Tovar, the pieces are fun, but convey a deeper anguish through the chaos and subtleties of the composition.

“It reflects the human condition, but it isn’t tragic,” Tovar told The Tico Times. “It is like taking the human condition lightly.”

The content of his pieces consists of mostly pencil-drawn faces and figures, often a molding of a human face with an animal body, or something less distinguishable.

With the faces, Tovar shows his clear ability to work within the rules and produce very realistic, but comic, characters. These are then placed in a context of visual chaos, strange combinations of images and markings of the paper that, for Tovar, come from an intuitive process that is separate from any attempt to transmit a deeper message.

The end result is a series of works that seem ripped from a sketchbook, with large areas of empty space and an incoherent and unfinished quality that Tovar hopes will leave viewers drawing their own conclusions about the surprising, strange and intriguing work.

Donna Conlon’s installation is a projected video entitled “Más Me Dan” (“They Give Me More”) that shows two disembodied hands patiently pulling plastic bags out of plastic bags, like Russian nesting dolls.

Starting with a large black garbage bag that fills the screen, the hands produce smaller and smaller bags, each with a new logo or color scheme and all the while accompanied by the sound of crinkling plastic, until there is only one tiny, black, empty plastic bag.

“I collect and accumulate ordinary objects, images and repeated actions from my daily life and local environment, and then use them to reveal the idiosyncrasies of human nature and the contradictions integral to our contemporary lifestyle,” Conlon says of her work. “The video ‘Más Me Dan’ explores issues of waste production and commercialization and their interconnections via consumerism.”

Eric Martinet’s exhibit consists of two distinct collections of brightly painted canvas on wood. “The New States” features paintings combining familiar icons and logos, cut in shapes to give the pieces the look of a large, single logo, sticker or banner that makes a deeper social statement. Common themes in the images are corporations and standards of old society, which are then juxtaposed with more popular images, such as the atom or Captain America, that mesh languages and cultures.

“I think what interests me about these works is their ability to shock and that they have a subliminal element, as is the case with the advertising we are bombarded with on a daily basis, thanks increasingly to television, the Internet and other media,”Martinet says.

His second collection, entitled “Expanding Wave,” is composed of circular patterns, like ripples in water, meant to reference the worldwide impact of “the constant bombing in the Middle East,”Martinet says.

“Cuatro – Solo Shows” runs through May 19. For information, contact Jacob Karpio Galería at 257-7963 or visit The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


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