Apples sink, yet the pear floats. Unmoored by gravity, and saturated with life, a deck of cards performs an impossible coup, ascending beyond the frame. Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s still lifes are governed by a singular, uncanny logic—they exceed human vanity to achieve a buoyant life for objects.
Almanza’s exhibition in the Walter and McBean Galleries is comprised of two parts—both above and below the water. In July and August, the gallery will function as an active studio, and scuba tank, for experimentation and the production of new work. In September, and for the duration of the exhibition, the resulting photographs and video will be presented.
Meanwhile, in SFAI’s Diego Rivera Gallery, we have been looking at Diego Rivera’s ass for 84 years. Of course, this was the artist’s intention. Rivera’s iconic work The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931) offers an epic image of the reconstruction of San Francisco, depicting laborers and fresco painters alongside the patron, on the scaffold, and closest to our eye: the artist’s high-waisted rear.
For Almanza, Rivera is a catalyst for the ongoing instrumentalization of Latin American identity and artistic practice. The curious history of Rivera’s SFAI fresco and its magnetism for tourists has long spurred interventions by artists. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, it was curtained off, and a provisional wall was constructed to obscure—it’s not known exactly what—yet it was perhaps a moment in which the tyrannies of McCarthyism and Abstract Expressionism entwined.
More recently, a toothpaste hammer and sickle was applied, Rigo 90 offered his own rebuttal, and Banana Republic supported the fresco’s restoration. From Almanza’s perspective, if Rivera is a limiting screen through which we understand Latin American art, this is an opportunity to add a new screen. Almanza’s scaffold of fluorescent fixtures doubles the structure of the fresco, shifts Rivera to the middle ground, and troubles the light sensor of the tourist’s camera. Beyond this light frame, another narrative of historical imbalance, artistic legacy, and the imperious Rivera achieves focus.
Everything but the kitchen sank is organized by San Francisco Art Institute and curated by Hesse McGraw, Vice President for Exhibitions and Public Programs.