Visual Poetry, Paintings by José Manuel Ciria at Baert Gallery

Avery Wheless, Artillery, April 4, 2019

Review of the exhibition Territorios y Mapas, Baert Gallery, 2019.


Last Saturday night, we hopped over to Baert Gallery to check out their new opening, Territorios y Mapas, featuring the works of painter José Manuel Ciria. Like most galleries in LA, Baert is nestled in an unassuming little nook, yet never fails to charm and intrigue. Upon entrance, we were met with an array of square format paintings. The canvases were all aligned and predominately uniform in dimension and color scheme, yet as one examined closer, it became evident; each contained its own unique language and flow.


I learned from Christian Baert, the director and curator, that this was the Spanish artists’ second show with the gallery and one he eagerly anticipated. The works were composed of Mondrian-esque colors flamboyantly applied on top of structural grey and black lines. The animated forms assert their positions beyond the boundary lines, which compose the first layer of most compositions. The colorful, gestural marks appeared to have been thrown across the canvas “Pollock Style”. They blurt out from gridded spaces with vivacious energy. This energy transferred to viewers who interacted with each work in intimate exploration. The dichotomy of rigid versus fluid marks provoked a sense of visual poetry—each mark had something to say, yet relied on the other to articulate. In utilizing a specific framework, Ciria’s work pushes movement beyond borders—exemplifying an uncontainable flow and encouraging a celebration of chaos.