Taymour Grahne Gallery is pleased to announce Guavas and Ferns, an exhibition of new paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Maia Cruz Palileo.
The paintings in this exhibition draw inspiration from a recent trip that Palileo took to the Philippines to visit with elders from a dying generation and to see her parents’ childhood homes. As a child of immigrants, Palileo’s concept of home developed two-fold: Chicago, where she was born and raised, and back home, referring to Manila, her parents’ homeland.
Her picture of back home was an improvised conglomeration of all the stories she had heard growing up: American army soldiers gave schoolchildren highly desired American candy. Saints could help you find lost items or pets. Dead relatives returned as spirits to escort the dying home. Grandma escaped lustful Japanese soldiers during the war by yelling “malaria!” Teenage boys serenaded their crushes through windows made of capiz shells and the handsome Palileo Brothers were known as the best dancers in town. Neighbors congregated at barrio fiestas, picnicked near rivers, tended coconut plantations and planted rice. Grandma and great grandma spent summers in the mountains and gathered sweet potatoes, peanuts, guavas and ferns.
Similar to the way her idea of home was cultivated by words from her nostalgic relatives’ stories, Palileo’s paintings are improvised narratives based on various sources: photos from her recent Philippines trip, her father’s slides from the 70’s, when they emigrated to America, pictures from her adolescence in the 90’s in the Midwest, and her late mother’s family album from the 40’s-60’s.
Figures in the paintings sit in front of homes, patios, fields, dining tables, and gardens. They are people from her life- friends from adolescence, uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins, and grandparents- along with strangers from old family photographs. Teenagers are depicted against vast skies of the American Midwest while elders and partygoers populate hybrid spaces laced with dense foliage.
The paintings in this exhibition encompass generations of her family’s history. Youths and elders may not share a language or landscape, but in Palileo’s world, they are crystallized in paint, their gazes fixed perhaps not at the viewer, but at one another in silent recognition and longing.
Palileo is a recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Award, and Astraea Visual Arts Fund Award. She received an MFA in sculpture from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and BA in Studio Art at Mount Holyoke College.
The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.