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Press Release

Enrique Martinez Celaya

Recent Paintings

January 9 – February 8, 2003


John Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of Recent Paintings by Enrique Martinez Celaya. This exhibition opens Thursday, January 9th, and will run through Saturday, February 8th.


Born in Cuba, Martinez Celaya immigrated to Madrid as a child. He went on to earn his B.A. at Cornell in Ithaca, New York before going on to study Quantum Electronics at UC Berkeley. He returned to painting, earning his MFA at UC Santa Barbara in 1994. Martinez Celaya resides in Los Angeles where he paints and teaches art at Pomona College.


For this Exhibition, Martinez Celaya unfolds his latest body of work. His canvases are rich and textured, an effect he achieves by covering them with emulsified tar, on top of which he creates a myriad of effects. The white paints are heightened by the reaction with the tar, often changing gold, brown and rust colors. Some of the paintings, characterized by his contemplative figures, are done in natural and subdued tones while others are heightened by bursts of bright colors against his blackened backgrounds. Each painting encompasses Martinez Celaya's distinctive ability to create a surface that invites a meditative contemplation, evoking themes of memory and rebirth.


Enrique Martinez Celaya is represented in a number of important public and private collections, including the Whitney Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Palm Springs Desert Museum, and the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin. Martinez Celaya received the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's "Art Here and Now Award" in 1998 and is the 2001 recipient of The Hirsch Grant.


An opening reception will be held on Thursday, January 9th, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.