Essay by Lindsey Gargas
Life is not always a walk in the park or a sea of brightly colored roses. Times arise when lives are sent into complete chaos; leaving people agitated and completely stressed. Difficult times cause great strain on everyone that is involved, leaving them clutching the edge of their seats, worrying about what is yet to come. It is not an easy task, but calmness will eventually follow.
Sergio Gomez’s exhibition title, Calmness, reflects a recent arduous time in his life that involved personal and emotional pain. Being from a very close family, it was difficult for Gomez to have his parents move back to Mexico early in 2008. But, when his mother became very ill, that stirred up stronger emotional sensations with Gomez.
Calmness is a response to that sense of tranquility Gomez felt as his mother began to recover, yet without direct visual reference to the personal drama as the newer works are a reflection of his experience with regaining a sense of serenity in his life. Gomez’s works reveal more than just the flesh and bone characteristics that people are familiar with. They reveal the feelings behind the skin. He relinquishes the identity of figures and place of his works as a way for viewers to connect with the piece, for it is important, not only for Gomez, but for others to establish a personal connection with the works. He wants to appeal to a greater universal audience.
Gomez embraces ambiguity and impersonality, as, for him, it is not the physical features that identify who people are. For him, People are identified by their emotions, their feelings, and their experiences. Through Gomez’s works, it is personal concern to establish a visual dialogue with his identity.
Not only is Gomez physically connected to the figures, since they are the result of outlining his or others physical body into the surfaces, but also is spiritually connected. He approached the figures with spontaneity, letting his emotions work their way out and into the work. As portrayed in Calmness, it is through his emotions that Gomez expressed the transformation that had occurred in his life.
As in Dead of Paradise, Gomez uses a limited color palette. With the warm, bright, as well as deep shades of yellow and variances of red, green, and black in the background, Gomez creates a realm that is unrecognizable. The varying tones of yellow appear rough and chaotic. Still, the yellows blend together just enough to express a sense of uniformity. Like the works in Calmness, episodes occur where not everything is serene and flows in the same direction. Nonetheless, in the end, what was conventional and ordinary will return over time.
With Gomez’s technique and style, he expresses what he does not say. Colors have been blended to create a heavily impastoed surface, so that Gomez’s agitated and sporadic brushstrokes are quite visible. This rough style comments on the chaos that all endure. Just as in life, Gomez uses smooth surfaces to represent the tranquil periods. Within each work, colors are layered to create not only more depth and deception, but to integrate a greater dimension. Situations can become very complex and layered, as everything is not one flat surface, but one with many facets. When calmness replaces the mayhem, life returns to a simpler point in time, where everything appears to be flat without any bumps along the way.
To help alleviate stress and add order into a moment of disarray, Gomez constructs a symmetrical grid structure from mainly rectangular pieces of paper, which are glued to the canvas. By creating these symmetrical images, Gomez is able to shape his own idea of a controlled universe and a tranquil environment.
Regardless of how normal life may return to, Gomez demonstrates through his works that a transformation occurred. Life will never be the same after a tragedy, but one may feel relieved that the mishap is over. Calmness sets in and begins to mend the aching heart and repairs it to the best of its ability. Like Gomez’s images in Calmness, life is ever changing.
However, transformation does not only occur experiences, but within the physicality of a person. In his works, Gomez demonstrates the progression, transformation of human life as he uses an array of human forms: male, female, child, and adult. By varying the figures, even including multiple figures, Gomez creates a dialogue between his works that express transformation and constant growth, not only of an individual but of a growing and maturing family.
Gomez reminds his viewers that they are in a constant state of transformation. Like the butterfly that is a frequent object in his works, new life will forever come. Similar to the butterfly, human life is precious and dainty. The butterfly is a calm, creature and a reminder that changes and transformations are inevitable for everyone. Through Calmness, Gomez expresses that life is not about taking care of the physical needs, but rather tend to the spiritual aspects.
In a number of Gomez’s pieces, the dark, dominant figures posses an illuminating light that encircles them. This ring is a reminder for those who believe in a higher power, will one day live in peace. Through Gomez’s works, it is this spiritual presence that expresses that he has overcome this obstacle in his life and has replaced the tension with a calm, placid tactile sense. Calmness is an exhibition that celebrates the treasured gift of life along with the belief of a higher power that will see people though their hardships.
Life is a journey. Times come when it is difficult to survive. No matter how they do it, people manage and pull through; leading them to better days ahead. Gomez expresses that it is not the anguish that defines who people are, where they have come from, or what they have to come, but rather it is what has been learned that helps define a person. As in Gomez’s pieces, it is when one is in a tranquil, relaxing place that they can truly enjoy life and learn from one another.
Calmness is not necessary a characteristic of Gomez's works, but rather a personal distinction of his own character. It recollects aspects of human and spiritual presence as experienced and depicted by the artist. In essence, Calmness captures a sense of existence and universal humanness that reveal a spiritual and emotional awareness without the identifiers of race, time, place, and social or political order.
©All images copyright of Sergio Gomez