Sargent's Daughters opens an exhibition of works by painter and interdisciplinary artist Cielo Felix-Hernandez

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Sargent's Daughters opens an exhibition of works by painter and interdisciplinary artist Cielo Felix-Hernandez
Installation view.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sargent's Daughters is presenting nieta, the first New York solo presentation of Cielo Felix-Hernandez, a Brooklyn-based painter and interdisciplinary artist. Working primarily in oil paint, Felix-Hernandez draws on memory and aesthetics derived from cultural legacy to reflect her lived experience as a trans-femme Boricua. Her exuberant palette and detailed, referential compositions draw viewers in to a space of care, resilience, and joy.

The roots of Felix-Hernandez’s paintings are autobiographical, referencing an upbringing caught between the island of Puerto Rico and the mainland of the United States. They contain traces of the past which express the artist’s diasporic roots, as well as those of her mother and grandmother. The exhibition’s title, nieta (granddaughter), serves to highlight the importance of generational ties, especially across geographical distance. For Felix-Hernandez, this familial warmth and positive identification is in contrast to the disruption and instability generated by the colonization of Puerto Rico by the U.S.

Grounded in this familial legacy, the paintings expand into the realms of the imagined and the possible. Many of the works and their fringed borders are dyed using aqua de jamaica, a hibiscus tea and an organic material that ties the artworks to the natural world. Living matter is studded throughout the works; plantain trees, chickens, and other flora and fauna burst through cracks in pavement, overtaking adverse surroundings and generating new futures.

Other objects, such as purses, long hair, and acrylic nails are drawn from the artist’s current life and inspirations. These are most often worn by the feminine figures who recur throughout the paintings and exists as an icon of self-fashioning and self-care. Her activities, though quotidian, are rendered iconic through swirls of pink light. For Felix-Hernandez, she represents an expansive transfemme future that exists beyond the confining narratives of coloniality and marginalization.

Cielo Felix-Hernandez (b. 1998, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico) received her BFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA. Recent group exhibitions include Nine Lives, Fortnite Institute, New York, NY, 2021; Visions and Nightmares, Simone Subal Gallery, curated by Baseera Khan, New York, NY, 2021; I’ll Make You Sorry, curated by LaNia Sproles, Green Gallery, Milwaukee, WI, 2020; documento, Embajada, San Juan, Puerto Rico; My Flannel Knickers, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY; and Dynasty, curated by Amy Goldrich, Christopher K. Ho, Omar Lopez-Chahoud, and Sara Reisman at PS122 Gallery, New York, NY, 2019. This is her first solo presentation in New York.

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