Juan Araujo: Laughing and the Storm

Stephen Friedman Gallery presents its second solo exhibition by Venezuelan artist Juan Araujo. This new body of paintings follows a major solo installation at Art Basel Unlimited in September 2021.

The exhibition highlights Araujo’s recent exploration of the theme of melancholia, likening the sense of isolation imposed upon us by the pandemic to the loneliness experienced by artists in their search for creativity. Araujo’s interest in the artist’s studio as a site of ritual is reflected in many of the works being displayed on wooden easels.

Araujo’s hyper-realistic depictions evoke the spirit of the images he reproduces. Edvard Munch’s ‘Self-Portrait ‘à la Marat,’ Beside a Bathtub at Dr. Jacobson’s Clinic’ portrays a haunting image of the artist during psychological treatment in the early 1900s. Araujo’s loose brushstrokes echo the blurred quality of Munch’s self-portrait, accentuating the sense of disconnect and reflection captured in the original.

Another painting fuses Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-portrait ‘Rembrandt Laughing’ with a digital photograph of a stormy sky. His jovial figure emerges from the tempestuous clouds, alluding to the fine line that separates joy and anguish.

Several works in the exhibition reference the colour palettes of nineteenth century paintings that embody the Romantic movement. By extracting the dominant pigments in Caspar David Friedrich’s ‘The Sea of Ice’ and ‘The Death of Sardanapalus’ by Eugène Delacroix, Araujo examines the use of colour to portray states of contemplation.

Araujo’s captivation with modern and postmodern architecture is demonstrated in works such as ‘Reception Desk’, an image of Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium in Finland. Here, the artist looks at Aalto’s use of colour in the hospital as a contributor to the healing process of its patients.

Spanning hyper-realism and abstraction, the works on display see Araujo interpret various types of source material to unveil the complex relationship between art and the psyche.


Duration 16 March 2022 - 14 April 2022
Times Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm.
Cost Free
Venue Stephen Friedman Gallery
Address 25-28 Old Burlington Street, London, W1S 3AN
Contact / info@stephenfriedman.com / www.stephenfriedman.com/

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