Salomón Huerta “Pool Paintings”

Harper's Chelsea

poster for Salomón Huerta “Pool Paintings”

This event has ended.

Harper’s Pool Paintings, Los Angeles-based artist Salomón Huerta’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. The presentation features new oil paintings by Huerta and opens Thursday, February 22, 6–8pm, with a reception attended by the artist.

Huerta’s fascination with private swimming pools began when he was sixteen. As a teenager working as a day laborer, he regularly cleaned pools in Malibu with his father. The first time he saw a private pool he was overcome by the surreal sight: the pristine body of water appeared to be untouched. It seemed as though the pool was simply for display and not for leisure. With Pool Paintings, Huerta reconstructs this distorted memory through experimentation with abstraction, marking a new chapter in his artistic career.

Huerta is known for his incisive command of observational painting. He traditionally renders his subjects which range from figures and objects, to landscapes, with an expressionist grandeur, inspired by the likes of art historical legends including Édouard Manet and Edgar Degas. But in Pool Paintings, Huerta’s free-form strokes denote an expansion of his approach towards representational painting: the exhibition is notably devoid of the human figure. Private swimming pools, often stationed among prim trees and manicured lawns, are the protagonists of these works instead.
Huerta conjures man-made environments with the rapid pace of abstraction. Lathering pigment directly onto wet layers beneath the
surface, Huerta embraces a wet-on-wet method of oil painting. The resultant works include fluid gestures that appear figurative when viewed at a distance yet abstract when observed up close. Huerta’s manipulation of form repeatedly complements the temporality and mood within each work. In one painting, which appears to be staged at dawn, Huerta transforms speckled clusters of verdant tones into lethargic trees. They sway among a cavernous pool shaped like a winding lagoon and equipped with a lone diving board. The water, which Huerta renders last across the works that comprise Pool Paintings, reflects this private oasis among a mosaic of loose turquoise marks. With streams of slick paint, the artist develops foreboding shadows that bleed into sinuous rivers of blue.

It’s in these pool reflections that the artist channels abstraction most vigorously. He invokes the tradition as a medium of translation, deciphering abstruse memories of bygone times with the rebellious spirit that abstraction incites. Aesthetically, the water presents the challenge of experimentation. Here Huerta troubles the boundaries of figuration and instead proposes alternative modes of viewership that embrace the slippage between representation and ambiguity. With his reactive yet instinctual approach to conventional scenes, the artist underscores the remarkable permeability of water. Huerta asserts that these sumptuous pools are indeed transitory sites: through water, he calls for the seamless flow of intimate memories, moods, and tones.



from February 22, 2024 to March 30, 2024


Salomón Huerta

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