TONY DE LOS REYES (b. 1960)
Border Theory (Rio Grande/Zona Desolada)201466 x 42 1/2 in. Dye and oil on linen
DescriptionTony de los Reyes’ new series of rigorous, visually tactile paintings contemplate abstraction as the foundation of both color field painting and the establishment of the US Mexico border. The paintings are both visually stimulating and subtly provocative, the exhibition asserts the proclivity behind border-making and the aesthetic principles of abstraction are motivated by the same habitual pursuit of spatial order. De los Reyes theorizes that both abstract painting and border-making rely on the assumption that absolute space can be materialized through its transformation into a space of containment and law. In the Border Theory paintings, the artist investigates the indeterminate, layered structures of identity as found in the continuum of his location and profession.
The imagery of the paintings reference sections of the US-Mexico border captured by satellite photography. Viewed from this perspective, regional landscapes are flattened into ambiguous areas of varying shape, color and tone. These types of surfaces, comparable to those found in post-war abstract painting, are re-contextualized through de los Reyes’ saturation of unprimed linen with multiple layers of fabric dyes. Above these fields of color, de los Reyes superimposes demarcations in oil, either through the use of singular, thin lines or gridded expanses of marks which explicitly refer to locations along the US-Mexico border. The resulting works imply how our perception of space, and the process of its utilization, forms the basis for both personal and political consciousness.