Johansson Projects presents Miguel Arzabe’s recent works in our online viewing room. These works were produced in 2021 and 2022. The pieces from 2021 were shown in the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery titled “Condór de Cuatro Cabezas / Four Headed Condor.” The latest works were created for Future Fair in New York, May 10-13, 2023. Arzabe’s second solo show with the gallery will take place in the fall of 2023.
During Miguel’s solo show, we hosted a conversation between Miguel and Jill d’Alessandro, Curator in Charge of Costume and Textile Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, where we learned how Miguel’s signature weaving style evolved from traditional Bolivian textile influences, as well as familial and cultural history, and form the two- and three-dimensional components of his ongoing explorations and considerations.
For this series of work, I started out with two paintings. There is something very appealing to me about weaving a painting that is already fully realized – the composition, the palette – has already been well-considered. These works already have their own presence. I’m aiming to maintain some original integrity of the original work, and bring something new to it by weaving them together.
“The goal of art is to have a conversation. I want to share my works and have people derive joy from them and think about their place in the universe.”
“Te Queiro Inti” commemorates Miguel’s love for his daughter, Inti. Inti is one of the most commonly used words in Quechua, meaning “sun.” The painting contains traditional textile patterns (frets) to reference landscape features like a mountain, a thunderbolt, and rain.
“Te Queiro Inti” is in the permanent collection of the de Young Museum in San Francisco.
Landscape is such a huge part of not only my artwork but also my life.
This piece above is Llallagua. When I finished it, I was just reading a book about mythical creatures, and when the Spanish chroniclers arrived they made a dictionary of Aymara terms (Incan pre-colonial language). The word for a mythical beast is “llallagua.” So I named this painting Llallagua because I saw animals in the mountains in this painting. There is also a town called Llallagua near the mine my father worked as an engineer. We used to go through that town. So the painting also has a connection to my father.
“Para Humber” was part of “Tikkun: For the Cosmos, the Community, and Ourselves”
at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco through January 2023
Miguel Arzabe Artist Video by Alameda Education Foundation in conversation with Jill d’Alessandro, Director and Curator of the Avenir Institute of Textile Art and Fashion at the Denver Art Museum.
About the Artist
Woven artwork at CJM speaks to our broken world | October 26, 2022 by Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell
“Varicolored strips of linen intersect over a frame from different angles, converging and diverging to create images that waver between angular rhythmic patterns and softer, moody abstractions. Its dispatch of color — sometimes rising out of the warp and woof and sometimes superimposed on top of it — weaves a mysterious tale of its own, its seeming conflicts becoming woven into resolutions.” LINK
A weaving of worlds: Miguel Arzabe explores ch’ixi | September 23, 2022 by Mary Corbin
“Artist Miguel Arzabe weaves his cultural roots into paintings, quite literally. A singular process that is not just about applying paint to canvas, but rather research, deconstruction, and adaptation, takes place in his Oakland studio. LINK
3 Bay Area visual artists win 2022 Artadia Awards: ‘I’m honored and a little bit in shock’ | July 6, 2022 by Joshua Kosman for SF Chronicle Datebook
“The award is a validation that the ideas I’ve been working on are deemed to be an important part of the conversation,” the Oakland artist said. “This is an exploration of my own political and racial identity. I never learned anything in school about Andean weaving — everything I learned about that I had to seek out on my own so I could put those aspects of my identity into a productive confrontation.” LINK
REVIEW: Infinite possibilities from trash in ‘Reclaimed: The Art Of Recology’ by Genevieve Quick for 48 Hills
‘…Weaving holds a strong presence in the exhibition, a nod to the long history of fiber arts in Northern California, in ways that expand the craft. Ricki Dwyer’s Pink and Green, a synthesis of two fabrics woven together at the center like an “x,” was created using a loom donated to Recology, which the artist assembled while in residence. Michael Arcega’s sharply-titled Shimmerysunset or Ibeweave (Nacireman aesthetic object) transforms secondhand, fast-fashion belts and IKEA shelving into a rippling sculpture that echoes woven cloth. Miguel Arzabe’s work reassembles local visual culture in San Francisco art scene circa 1973, by weaving bright strips of silkscreen posters into geometric, abstracted forms.’ LINK
Genevieve Quick for 48 Hills ‘ | June 9, 2021
…Arzabe’s energetic patterns and meticulous crafting present a formally strong show where the artist’s process of making, unmaking, and reassembly speaks to the hybridity and nonlinearity of traditions, narratives, and place. Moreover, Arzabe’s show demonstrates the artist’s keen ability to push viewers back to take in the whole while also pulling them into to inspect the details, where from both perspectives the view is entrancing….’ LINK
Barbara Morris | July 2, 2021
’…Arzabe’s work is very much of this moment, reflecting a combination of influences and concerns, a mingling of materials and techniques that intertwine the ancient and the modern, the physical, mental and spiritual realms as well coming into play. Created during the time of COVID, it is infused as well with an undercurrent of uncertainty, wariness. Reflecting on that aspect, the artist stated that he found immersion in his complex process allowed him to focus his energy into something positive, and it is that resilient spirit of hope which resonates throughout.’ LINK
SF/Monthly insert for the New York Times by Mark Taylor | June 2021
“…Arzabe explores his Bolivian heritage through weaving. The four heads in this show represent two artists whose work inspired the paintings Arzabe creates that are then sliced up and woven in combination to be experienced and interpreted by the viewer.”LINK
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts “Miguel Arzabe Talks Recuperation as a Form of Resilience” 2020
“My work spans across the mediums of painting, video, and paper weaving. I was born and raised in the US by my parents who immigrated from Bolivia, and I trained and worked as an engineer before pivoting to visual art. Holding all these distinct cultural identities simultaneously informs my practice. I am inspired by the textile tradition of my Andean heritage and have developed a weaving technique that I apply to reproductions of artworks as well as my own paintings. Currently, I am working on a large triptych, woven acrylic paintings on yupo paper.” LINK
San Francisco Chronicle, “Weaving present fight with past” Ryan Kost, 2018
“His pieces were inspired by traditional Andean weaving — both his parents are from Oruro, Bolivia. But rather than using cotton or wool, for this project he weaves together pieces of ephemera, replicas of vintage posters created for various Bay Area political and social movements…Arzabe’s pieces are, in part, meant to tie this fight to all the others that have come before it.” LINK
San Francisco Cottages and Gardens, “Dedicated Space” Alisa Carroll, 2016
“One can see his engineer’s mind at work in everything from the custom stretcher bars he designed with a team from One Hat One Hand in Bayview–with digital instructions accessible via phone–to his meticulous paper weavings made from art flyers, posters and ephemera.” LINK
BmoreArt, “The Anti-Fair: Artist-Run Miami Beach” Cara Ober, 2015
“On the whole, Artist-Run exuded an invigorating ‘I don’t care’ attitude, where some doors were closed when we arrived and others open, a place where authentic visions, like the sand sculpture presented by Arzabe & Reichertfrom SF and the Stupid Bar presented by Baltimore’s Open Space, could function in immersive, smart, and funny ways.” LINK
The Sacramento Bee, “Art review: Artist’s unusual work redefines painting in ‘Las Cosas Que Pintan’” Victoria Dalkey, 2015
“While the piece has an underlying sense of anxiety and loss — the artists who owned the paint have given up — it is also humorous and celebratory as well as being a kind of homage to the artists who gave him the paint.” LINK
SFGate, “Hacking the view from the Transamerica building” Andrea Valencia, 2014
“With these tablets, Arzabe is not trying to connect the dots for the participant but rather let naturally curious people come across something they want to know more about. “It’s about leaving the city in the time that is the most productive time, and doing something unproductive; taking distance from the world and doing ‘work’,” he said.” LINK
StoreFrontLab, “sightlines” Interview by Arianne Gelardin, 2014
“MA: It’s important to me that my work is visually accessible to anyone regardless of their prior knowledge of any specific field of study, be it art, architecture, geography, etc. The formal characteristics should entice the viewer to look deeper and come up with her own interpretations. Abstraction is a great tool for opening up space for multiple meanings. Having said that, the work can have more complex implications for our understanding of our urban environment if these other fields are taken into consideration.” LINK
SFGate: Art & Not, “Arzabe at Cult by appointment, but hurry” Kenneth Baker, 2014
“If the word “gifted” makes any critical sense in the hugger mugger of today’s art world, then Miguel Arzabe merits it. / His small show at Cult brings into focus an artist of intense but more than merely egotistic ambition.” LINK
Whitehot Magazine, “Two Solo Shows in SF” Leora Lutz, 2014
“The film is an autobiographical hybrid of performance spliced with a documentary of Arzabe’s process. Glimpses of objects appear and then disappear; Arzabe’s body comes and goes creating a disjuncture between what is hidden and what is revealed. Also in the exhibition are the actual paintings created while working on the film. The completed works remain as archives of activity.” LINK
Carets and Sticks, “/*Reject Algorithms*/” edited by Bonnie Begusch, 2014
“Miguel Arzabe: When I find a mark, or a gesture that speaks to me while I am painting, my first impulse is to try to repeat it, to do it again and again. I want to feel it again. But the whole ethos of the project was to resist that impulse, because it can be a way of getting trapped into a mode of thinking where I am trying to achieve that feeling again instead of being present in the moment of creation.” LINK
SFAQ, “In Conversation: ‘/*Reject Algorithms*/’ Solo Exhibition by Miguel Arzabe at Cult Exhibitions, San Francisco” Interview with Jesi Khadivi, 2014
“Miguel Arzabe: The goal with this work was to not have a goal, to break patterns when I became conscious of those patterns. By chance I found a book at a thrift store of clip-art — isolated silhouettes of people playing various sports. I’ve played sports my whole life. For me it’s more like Zen: not thinking, but doing. I set up the studio, (a dancer’s studio) so that movement could be a part of the painting process. One side of my studio turned into a performance stage, and the other side of the studio was a production space for the paintings.” LINK
SF Chronicle, “CULT Objects” Kenneth Baker, 2013
“Miguel Arzabe has executed what’s known as a Sierpinski Gasket — a fractal pattern made up of ever-diminishing nested triangles — in the upper corner of the front room. / It floats mostly unnoticed overhead, as we might picture an unthought notion doing.” LINK
Santa Fe New Mexican, “The Art of Miguel Arzabe” Michael Abatemarco, 2012
“San Francisco-based artist Miguel Arzabe works in a variety of mediums, including painting and video. Circles imagery is a common motif in his work. While rendered abstractly in his paintings, in his videos, circles are included as objects – fruit, ping-pong balls, and a circular kite are among them, all of them orange. In the videos, these objects sometimes mimic the sun in the sky, or are used in conjunction with human actions – being thrown in the air or pushed over a hill. ‘Many artists have used orange circles.’ Arzabe told Pasatiempo, ‘most famously the Californian John Baldessari in his Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts), 1973, to which my video work owes a big intellectual and formal debt. But perhaps on a more primal and personal level, my roots come from Bolivia, and the Incas worshipped the sun god Inti, and that makes sense to me.’” LINK
SF Chronicle, “Thin Ice” Kenneth Baker, 2011
“…Arzabe has turned in several small paintings, on the cusp of abstraction, that evoke landscapes about to be engulfed by darkness or cold – or human history.” LINK
Ampersand Intl Arts, “Falling In” Bonnie Begusch, 2011
“Using repetition as a device that points to a continuous process of testing, mastering, failing, and starting all over again, Arzabe examines the body’s endurance and limitations as it struggles to exert an impact, traverse a distance, access an exterior, and make its idiosyncratic mark within the territory of the picture.” LINK
East Bay Express, “Post-Apocalypse Now” Dewitt Cheng, 2008
“Color is central to my work: bold, assertive and unusual combinations are a potent language I use to create space, invite the viewer in (or confront, depending on the viewer) and to speak loudly…” LINK