Branching Wave

A personal exhibition encompassing two years of artworks, including drawings, paintings, screenprints, video, animation, writing and installation (Bowery, NYC). Final exhibition, MFA Art Practice, SVA. Take a deeper dive into Branching Wave here︎︎︎


Artist, Designer

None of them are aware of the underlying nature of it all. It’s one of those truths that’s both incontestable and unprovable, ridiculous and sensible. Is there an underlying nature of it all, after all?

This is the titillating caption  penciled in all caps of one of Alfonso Ponce de Leon’s prints, each made unique by non-sequiturs such as this and energetic marks in oil pastel.

Ponce de Leon’s work is, like these captions, deceptively simple. Like the better artists of our moment, his work is beautiful (that word that has now become dirty in our field) and governed by form, line, color and field. Text makes brief and coquettish appearances, never adhering strictly to nearby forms. Nothing is represented and no opinion is prescribed. It challenges us to practice that forgotten art of looking; of sensing for its own sake.

The works themselves are shown in chorus, modest compositions usually on paper torn from drawing pads, sometimes on scrap wood, each one whispering that it is itself not of particular import. This modesty is refreshing. It quietly butts up against both grand and imposing canvases and grand and imposing statements of direct political efficacy. It makes what is today the surprisingly radical statement that art is only what it is. It’s here to be seen and no more. But in so doing it re-endows the viewer with the freedom of interpretation which, for decades, we have been denied. It does not dictate terms, and we, those who look, are better for it.

In art today, as in politics, the notion of a radical break, a radical anything, really, seems impossible and undesirable. We live in an age of modest reforms, of gentle rearrangements of pieces already given. The ever-same dull march of the present appear in phantasm as crisis with each new news cycle. Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is desired. Guarantees are undesirable. Everything is undesirable. It’s all #problematic.

Ponce de Leon’s work crystallizes this confusing situation without embracing it. It encapsulates the profound sadness and loss that comes at the end of the glittering the promise of modernity, that proposed great march forward of art and humanity, has been broken. It’s the moment of discovery that every truth promised might also be a lie; that the enlightenment itself might have been kidding us. Like having been fooled by an unfaithful lover.

Drawings are composed of pieces with eroded and chipped edges, artifacts of some fantastical machine, either of a lost past or possible future. One thinks of a mad scientist, searching desperately for a way out, picking up what pieces of the past remain and attempting to rework them for the future.

These bits and pieces capture fragments and desire when we no longer dare to dream and fleeting glimpses of truth when the enlightenment is suspect. These humble remains, those scraps on the slaughterhouse floor of history, yet glimmer.

—Allison Hewitt Ward

Let’s chat ︎

Instagram︎︎︎        LinkedIn︎︎︎           email︎︎︎