Portrait for Loneliness
Dalton Gata


October 15–November 11, 2022

Dalton Gata
Portrait for Loneliness
October 15 – November 11, 2022
Opening Saturday, October 15, 6–9PM

Peres Projects is pleased to present Portrait for Loneliness by Dalton Gata (b. 1977 in Santiago de Cuba, CU), the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery in Berlin.

Born in Cuba and based in Puerto Rico, Gata takes the Caribbean diaspora as his central subject. Using bold and vivid colors he imbues his canvases with an energy that draws on the vibrancy of Caribbean visual culture, lending a sense of brightness and vigor to his painting.

Although visually rich, Portrait for Loneliness addresses the motif of the passport photo – a typically colorless portrait – through which Gata considers the parallel realities of privilege and marginalization that are embedded in such forms of official identification. He recognizes the passport photo as a constrictive genre of image, one which classifies and segregates individuals based on nationality and presumed birthright. Via this body of work, Gata alludes to the often perilous experience of migration for those who travel without documents, especially between Latin America and the United States, drawing on both family history and the common stories of people who commit to such treacherous relocation across national boundaries. Through his consideration for the complexity of migration, Gata identifies a major disparity between the dangers of the migrant voyage – one which involves great personal risk and possible fatality – and the reasons that motivate those who leave their countries of origin, like the opportunity to provide for their families, or to improve quality of life.

As reflected in the title, through this series Gata emphasizes the experience of solitude that is particular to the immigrant: leaving one’s home is often a sacrifice of the familiar. Yet, while Portrait for Loneliness addresses this by referencing the passport photo as an alienating visual form, Gata renders his portraits deliberately inadequate to official standards. They are images that do not comply with border control and the bureaucratic management of people in transit. Certainly, the characteristics of passport photos are narrow: sitters are photographed against a neutral background; hair is pulled away from the face; accessories or adornments are not permitted in the frame. They are typically uncreative images, used to control and organize bodies, thereby concealing personality traits and true expression of identity. In answer to this, Gata accentuates unusual or eccentric features in his sitters. They wear off-beat costumes, or are elaborately made-up with colorfully shadowed eyes and painted lips, effectively subverting the government sanctioned criteria that determine not only the visual qualities of a passport photo, but a person’s right to citizenship.

Gata’s background in fashion design is evident in this body of work, expressed via the sartorial choices of his figures. The gaze is significant in these paintings as well: whether staring directly at the viewer, or off into the distance, his subjects regard their surroundings with serious attention, and it is through these eccentric and elegant figures that Gata also reflects on conventional standards of beauty and gender in contemporary society. The uniqueness of Gata’s painted figures addresses the mounting instability of our times, as well the experiences of migrant communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere. His work recognizes the myriad and fluid expressions of gender and sexual identity in Caribbean culture, pulling this together with a subversion of the standard passport photo in order to propose expansive and queer forms of self expression, self-actualization and acceptance.

This is Gata’s second solo exhibition with Peres Projects in our Berlin gallery. Gata has exhibited in a number of international exhibitions including solo exhibitions The Way We’ll Be, curated by Alex Gartenfeld, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami), Miami, Cabeza de mango, Chapter, New York, Allí, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, San Juan and at the Sunday Painter, London. Group exhibitions include Tropical Is Political: Caribbean Art Under the Visitor Economy Regime, curated by Marina Reyes Franco, Americas Society, in collaboration with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico, New York, FUTURISMO, Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paolo, Do you realise there is a rainbow even if it’s night!?, curated by Natalia Sielewicz, The collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Municipal Art Center, Gorzów and To dream a man, curated by Samantha Ozer, Clima Gallery, Milan.

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For artist information please contact Nick Koenigsknecht (nick@peresprojects.com).
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