press release

Artist Pia Camil's first solo U.S. exhibition opens at the Contemporary Arts Center on November 6, 2015 and runs through March 13, 2016. Camil was born in 1980 in Mexico City and looks to the streets of her native city for inspiration. Her imagery is pulled from urban detritus and appears as disassociated portions of billboards, presenting large canvas paintings that hang like curtains from the gallery ceiling. In these works Camil explores what she calls the "aestheticization of failure"—drawing visual cues from deteriorating urban landscapes and translating them into desirable art objects. Her geometric abstractions are created through a labor-intensive process in which fabrics are hand-dyed and stitched together.

Camil recently gained attention at Frieze New York in the spring of 2015, when her 800 habitable paintings were sought after by patrons. The textiles were hand-crafted from leftover fabric pieces; people were permitted to try them on and then take one with them at no cost. These paintings then lived on with the viewers and gained added animated features.

Skins reflects upon contemporary society by exploring the intersection of commodification and performance. For this newly commissioned body of work, Camil merges the aesthetics of commerce with that of Frank Stella's iconic "Copper Paintings." Stella's works, created between 1960 and 1961, call attention to the flat nature of the medium while breaking with the set parameters of painting through the use of abnormally shaped canvases. Camil recreates Stella's forms out of slat paneling used in merchandising display.

Within stores, slat paneling functions as a skin, covering every architectural surface and rendering it useable. Camil appropriates this material and affixes shelves and hooks upon which ceramic masks sit and cloaks hang. The masks draw inspiration from forms seen in shops created to display jewelry. They serve as a commentary on the manipulation of the female image in marketing and, in taking on the appearance of masks, articulate the artifice of advertising.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a stage made after a Stella painting. This piece invites interaction from the viewer, allowing the viewer to create a persona by wearing the different cloaks placed throughout the exhibition. It is an opportunity to explore the different aspects of our own personality and become part of the exhibition.