Hello. This is Alberto Rey. Thank you for coming to the exhibition. In this room, you will see two bodies of work. The work on the right is videos and paintings from the Biological Regionalism Series and the rest of the gallery has work from the Aesthetics of Death Series. I’ll take you through the paintings, and I hope you enjoy the comments. If you do have any questions about the work, I’ll be presenting a lecture on August 19th as part of the biennial’s lecture series, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Alberto Rey, Project History
The Biological Regionalism Series started about ten years ago. I was investigating the Hudson River School, angling art and the idea of regionalism. I was intrigued by how these themes no longer seemed important in contemporary art or contemporary society. I saw a disconnection between society and our environment. I thought that this series could use those past movements that used to be important in the past and make them important again because they were investigating some of the things that seemed like we needed to look at again and how it reconnected with our environment. I looked at my own life and noticed how much time I was spending inside whether I was in the classroom, my office, at home or in a car and noticed how disconnected I was from my environment. I thought I could create a body of work that could subtly engage the audience and have them consider their relationship with their own environment.
Alberto Rey, Biological Regionalism
The paintings and videos in the Biological Regionalism Series for this installation began last December when I came up from Fredonia to Rochester to investigate some of the local streams. I had gone to Slater, Allen and Four Mile Creek before I concentrated my efforts on the Genesee River. I chose the Genesee River because of its importance to the Rochester Area, and also because of its rich artistic history and because of its importance to migratory fish and bird species. The paintings are presented in a way that is reflective of the Hudson River School by trying to capture some of the wilderness in the area and bringing it to the general public. The work is also presented in a large panoramic scale and technically it is also presented in a very painterly manner. Again, it tries to make an historic connection to the past. The video tries to do the same thing aesthetically, but it also brings in the elements of sound and motion, which makes it a more complete sensory experience and hopefully makes it a more of a contemporary landscape as well.
Alberto Rey, Aesthetics of Death
The Aesthetics of Death Series started about ten years ago. I was collecting these images of dead fish, as I was working on the Biological Regionalism Series, and I had done so much research on steelhead, which is the species that the paintings depict, that every time I saw a dead fish, I made a connection to them almost as if it was someone I knew. Metaphorically, it seemed like I connected them through some of my own experiences. These fish seemed to be quietly fading into the landscape, absorbed into the landscape. This was the same landscape that had nurtured them throughout their existence. I was collecting these images not knowing what I was going to do with them until a few years ago when my father-in-law passed away and my sister passed away and there were some other major illnesses in our family. I looked at these images I had collected quite differently and to me they seemed to be almost like a metaphor for life: how fragile it was and how important it was. When I painted these images, these fish, I wanted to make them very painterly, very colorful, full of life but also making it clear and not apologizing for what it was saying, hopefully making the paintings almost a vehicle for the audience to investigate their own lives and the importance of everyday life.