Working in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation and printmaking, Enrique Martínez Celaya (born Cuba, 1964) has created an extensive body of work characterised by allusive complexity. Using simple compositions and quasi-archetypal images – including the sea, animals and birds, children, landscapes and symbols of domesticity such as chairs and tables – Martínez Celaya blends fantasy, reality, and memory to create a poetic world that is both semi-autobiographical and resonantly universal. The work is an open-ended search for meaning and significance, proceeding from the personal to the public, evolving as distinct but interconnected bodies of work in profound thematic constructions. Eschewing narrative and conventional interpretation Martínez Celaya’s work thereby creates a matrix of rich conceptual possibilities and a striking openness to personal readings.
In addition to art historical reference points Martínez Celaya is influenced by a wide array of interests including poetry, quantum physics, the emotional mechanisms of kitsch, analytic and continental philosophy, Latin American literature and everyday life. Martínez Celaya begins with personal experience before enacting a research-led process to proceed towards and explore the universal. Although his figures echo archetype-like symbols alluding to larger existential concerns, the artist considers the subject matter of his practice to be fluid and constantly evolving.
In 2013, for his large exhibition The Pearl at Site Santa Fe, Martínez Celaya created an immersive environment that included painting, sculpture, video, photography, waterwork, sound, and writing, as well as the artist’s first musical arrangement. In The Pearl, the artist took the notion of home as both a point of departure and a destination to craft a visual poem of strong emotional, philosophical and psychological resonance. The structure of the exhibition invited a specific movement through the galleries thus unfolding a multi-layered narrative where objects, images, and references were continuously reconsidered in a similar way that a piece of music, a film, or a novel are revealed in time.
Enrique Martínez Celaya was trained as an artist and physicist. He earned a BS in Applied & Engineering Physics from Cornell University, a MS in Quantum Electronics from University of California Berkeley and a MFA in Painting from University of California, Santa Barbara. He has had solo exhibitions at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, the Miami Art Museum, the Berliner Philharmonie and the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. His works are included in many private and public collections including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. In 2010 his Collected Writings and Interviews 1990-2010, was published by the University of Nebraska Press.