Multipolaridad: Joery Santos Gómez and the New Generation of Dominican Artists

BY , October 19, 2009

“The more they keep people down, the better the art will be.  The more they say what is not art, or what is art, the better.”

These are the words of artist, Joery Santos Gómez, who won a place in August’s 25th Biennale of the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In this show a vanguard of young artists have broken away from the recent history of the Dominican art scene, which Gómez condemns as “typecasting young artists.”  Past shackles are being discarded in this invigorated “time of change” where the impetus is increasingly a rebellious, forward-looking drive to create for yourself instead of anyone else.  “You can say ‘forget what anyone says,’ because the art movement of young people is going to continue growing each day anyways.’”

Past Biennales at the Dominican MAM have been dominated by a band of established Dominican artists, who have alone received the majority of recognition.  This year’s exhibition was dedicated to one of the pillars of Dominican art, Ramón Oviedo.  The opening, scheduled on his 85th birthday, celebrated the work of Oviedo, who is known nationally and internationally for his expressionist art.  Oviedo and a number of his contemporaries have long dominated the Dominican scene, and little space has been available for new ideas or points of view.  Although the work of these older artists is varied, Gomez points out that they have been able to “define the way that this country appreciates art.”

However, this Biennale show seems to have set precedence for younger, less known artists to share the prestige, as well as a part of the profits. Gómez says there are now “young people… that have gotten into the scene, and have made things a lot better.”  He adds: “They are super different… and clearly that is what is interesting.  I imagine that after this the Biennales are going to be even more incredible, with more support for the young artists.”

As a boy, Joery recalls art as an escape mechanism, and a vital force which allowed his imagination the freedom it needed to escape from the pressures of impending adulthood. During this time he was able to create different characters in his mind that he was able to take with him everywhere he went, and see them for ‘real’ once they were manifested on paper. His drawings became a way for him to believe in everything that his imagination had created.

Joery’s art has also been able to develop further over time with the help of his brother Eric, who shares his love of art.  Over the years, his brother has been his most important artistic influence, beginning when Eric would draw Transformer characters for Joery when they were younger.  Eric’s first art exhibit took place in their house in the Gazque neighborhood of Santo Domingo when he painted their entire two floor house, with each room of the house representing a distinct part of an expressive, imagined dream world of color, shape and form.  This elaborate work of art was able to fill an empty space in Joery’s universe.  The narratives that were told on the walls spoke to him and recounted stories that had always been a part of Joery’s life but never expressed in images.  This exhibit and his brother’s artistic guidance have been definitive in shaping Joery’s current work.

After this exhibit and a break from his artistic base, developed in school, Joery began to create a style all his own.  A turning point in his approach to creating art arrived during his travels of the Dominican Republic, in a somewhat epiphanic trip to the verdant town of Bonao.  Here, he discovered “a clearer idea of what was going on in my work, and what I wanted to do with my art.”  Breaking away from the more realistic bias of his previous work, which was always “in two different forms: either imaginary or more realistic,” he developed an almost schizophrenic visual language in deciding to combine the two and to play more with the personalities in his work.  Gomez believes that “Every human being has different voices in their minds, and with my work I tried to analyze and develop definitions of each one.  Each time that I found out something about one [voice], I began to develop that personality more.” This vibrant documentation of personalities proved the turning point in Gómez’s inspiration:

That is what I was seeking in my new work.  Trying to create, based on colors and forms, a greater definition of who is who, and combine that with everything that you have in you and put that into the painting.  And those personalities continued to grow, creating more definition: more realities and unrealities.  In the end it could be schizophrenia, I don’t know.  Or it could be nothing, a way of painting the things that happen to me.

It was with this new view of his work that Joery created “Multipolaridad,” the painting that won the placement at MAM.  In this piece Joery uses acrylic paint on canvass to create the bright and colorful contrasts which outline each of his beings. With this piece, Joery has been able to express who he is in a complex work of art, as well as continue to define his own space and expression in the artistic scene of Santo Domingo.

For Joery, this exhibit has been a feat that left him extremely excited. However, his excitement will not keep him from continuing to work.  Joery, has up until now, developed an artistic repertoire that includes paintings, video art, and drawing.  Currently, Joery continues to work on further paintings that will be part of a show entitled La Flor de la Vida.  Joery has also decided that he will continue his university career in studying animation.

It has become clear that after this Biennale, Joery, as well as other young artists, will continue to revolutionize the Dominican art scene.  This historic break from the norm has given Joery much hope for the future.  Satiated with ability and inspiration, these young Dominicans leave no doubt that they will continue to challenge their surroundings and create valued art.

Joery Santos Gómez’s work is available to view at: www.istoyo.com



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