text and images courtesy of Lisa Sette Gallery

“For some years now I have been more interested in creating images than in taking photographs in the traditional sense of the word.”— Luis González Palma

Over the course of an accomplished, decades-long career, Guatemalan artist Luis González Palma has worked to distill the poetic from the photographic, altering and obscuring the formal tenets of the medium of photography while paying tribute to its profound historical and theoretical implications.

In September and October Lisa Sette Gallery will feature new works from González Palma’s three ongoing projects: MÖBIUS, in which romantic portraiture is met with the stark geometrical forms of modernism; KOAN, involving delicate and precise collages of early South American astronomical photographs, and HAIKU, a compositing of photographic scraps, geometric collage and digital manipulation that revels in the realm of pure abstraction. Each endeavor is underpinned by González Palma’s fascinating and deeply personal formulations connecting Central and South American history, philosophical schools, and cultural imagination.

Above: Luis González Palma, Mobius (Joven Alado – Winged Youth), 2019, digital print on canvas, gold leaf and Judea Bitumen, 11.75″ x 11.75″, Edition of 5, Variant.

In MÖBIUS, González Palma speculatively joins Central American romantic aesthetic of 1930’s magical realism with the rationalist concretism that emerged in mid century South America. In doing so, the artist seeks “to generate a symbolic ‘conciliation’ between the two artistic currents, activating tensions and creating relationships between two ways of representing reality from diametrically opposed perspectives.” The result of this experiment is a series of breathtaking sepia portraits of native Guatemalans—their serene visages often flourished with roses, wings, and other iconic imagery—that are bisected or framed by abstract geometric shapes in an eerie, intimate interplay of intellect and emotion.

Above: Luis González Palma, El Sol 10 , 2017, photograph, onion paper, collage, 23.5″ x 22″, Edition of 5. 

Argentina’s Astronomical Observatory of Córdoba captured some of the first images of outer space from the South American continent, and González Palma centers his KOAN photo collage series on these historic photographs of cosmic bodies and spectral rays. Framed in an intriguing architecture of dichromatic spaces, these nonlinear collages bring to mind the notion of parallax—the effect of distance and the passage of time on our perception of the universe. This body of work represents for the artist “a way to access a more complex and deep conscience, the search for a reality related to the void and the sacred space, creating images that represent meditative visual spaces, uncertain and loaded with a mysterious geography.”

Above: Luis González Palma, Haiku 6, 2018, chromaluxe print, 29.5″ x 21.5″, Edition of 7.

González Palma’s most recently initiated HAIKU series comprises “drawings made from fragments, scraps, waste from scanned Nineteenth-Century negatives and negatives that have been exposed to light, combined with geometric images made on the computer.” While the artist classifies these works as “post-photographic,” their restless repetitions of angle and frame, light and dark, and delightful, unexpected surface ambiguities, speak of a commitment to the photographic process as experiment, muse, and cultural conscience.

An opening reception with the artist will be held on Saturday, October 12, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.



Poetic Abstraction

September 7 – October 26

Lisa Sette Gallery