Rhapsodies in Color: Khotan Fernandez & Franck de las Mercedes Two Contemporary Oracles

June 15 – July 30, 2022

Presented by The Contemporary Art Modern Project

Rhapsodies in Color featuring Khotan Fernandez and Franck de las Mercedes explores how art and color expose society’s insistence on abandoning humanism and instead prefers dwelling in hedonism and greed.

Considering that a rhapsody is either an epic poem, or part of one and when applying that idea to the works of artists Khotan Fernandez and Franck de las Mercedes, one understands that their works and meaning are part of a much bigger picture. An epic poem either glorified or exposed a hero or people with an intent to either align the author to the positive, or protect the author from the wrath of the gods. How this element translates into modernity and to these two particular artists is that because of the artistic language they use they liken themselves to oracles weaving warnings through line and color, offering alternative views of existence through color and application and drawing attention to how modernity has left a barren landscape for imagination, and how identity is left to find footing in a world either chaotic, violent or just not good enough for one to achieve and maintain ascribed ideals.

An Aliiien, 2020, for instance, by Khotan Fernandez encapsulates the above in the contradictions of fertility and solitude. We encounter a lone alien in a landscape both otherworldly and yet recognizable, but for the yellow sky and the spaceship. The heroes of the piece are definitely the alien and the sun as they hold more than one color - but there is a duality to them and the entire piece due to the predominance of yellow - a color that both embodies life, but at the same time, decay. The warning here being one about the environment and both our place in it and responsibility to protect and maintain, lest the reality become what the artist depicts, our absence.

Violent Inheritance, 2021, from Franck de las Mercedes holds no preverbal punches and comes right to the point and classifies society as violent. He does this clearly with the grenade being the central focus of the piece in what appears to be a cracked, broken and destroyed building. There are many ways to look at this work and interpret it, but lets say the structure is a psychoanalytical depiction of self, by placing the grenade in the central core of self, in this case identity - clearly the artist is heralding how violence is central to who we are and how we navigate our path through life and existence. He shows us not only how destructive violence is to objects and humanity, but also how a violent world has room only for greed and that violence gives one the permission to abandon notions of the ideal hero - and replace that and instead glorify villainy.

Both artists through their confident use of color stand firm in the position of calling attention to failures that society condones and embraces all the while both warning and distancing themselves from these behaviors. Their mutual use of unexpected and somewhat unrealistic colors affirms that these failures we enact are also remarkably unbelievable - that we condone, encourage and too often ignore injustice, we bully and berate what is different and seemingly refuse humanity - Surely the gods are pissed! --Melanie Prapopoulos

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