The Contemporary Art Modern Project’s latest exhibition, Vacancy Within, features works by Miami-based artist Khotan Fernandez. His latest body of work serves as a dialogue between the optimism and brightness of the artist’s words and sense of nostalgia oriented retellings, braced against Art Deco motel imagery enveloped in the dark of night, seeking that moment of repose we often desperately crave.
The art of weaving a narrative, guiding the experience through each footstep is an art that Khotan has honed over his evolving experience as an artist, experimenting with medium, theme, and materials with every series. He is adept at finding inspiration in the mundane, even in something as seemingly insignificant as the transitory space that is a motel. Folks from walks of life use these opportunistic spaces as a place of refuge, a sacred space for indecent or nefarious dealings, or just as a stop on a pilgrimage. “Motels are a kind of liminal space where different people, needs, and stories intersect, and I am fascinated by the possibilities that this creates. Just as the motel is a space of in-betweenness, where people pass through temporarily, a painting can also be seen as a liminal space of sorts,” Fernandez explains.
Still, it is the story of the individual at play that Khotan honors in his recontextualization of some of Miami’s most iconic imagery and architectural traits. The complexity of these spaces and the people who pass through them drive Khotan’s latest works, such as Starry-eyed Lovers, A Meteor Shower and Life’s a Motel, We Are All Guests. His portraits evoke a longing for the emotional intricacy that is involved in Miami’s design choices, adding layers just as well as removing them, and imbuing these structures with stories and personalities while Miami keeps on. The longstanding negative stereotypes applied to the concept of a motel juxtaposed with a vivid color palette draws the viewer into the painting. This allows the artist and the viewer to embark on a new story, complete with a new batch of imaginary characters, together. The creation of an entirely new world within the one Khotan calls home began with his 2016 Mimo Series, showcasing familiar landscapes in much the same as these Art Deco-inspired works wherein the artist explores fantastical landscapes viscerally emoted upon by the paint and brush. This persistence on the emotional exploration of un-emotional, physical structures is an aspect he focuses on as it is unresolved by the human psyche. Considering that there are depths to our mind and emotions yet to be reached, likening the individual to a condition of momentary ‘vacancy,’ Khotan Fernandez’ work offers moments of reprieve. suggesting the Vacancy Within may come from inside ourselves. “My goal with this series is to explore the intersections of language, image, and place, creating works that invite viewers to lose themselves in the stories of Miami's motels and the people who inhabit them.”
Curation by Gabriel Torres