TOY PUNCHER, 2020 Charcoal, plastic, fabric, collage on paper 42 x 42 in 106.7 x 106.7 cm Copyright The Artist

The Contest: Clothilde Jiménez’s Solo Show At Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

His practice is rooted in conceptions such as the fragmentation of queerness, and in this series, his relationship to his father and athleticism. Through these techniques, Clotilde Jiménez examines the way the intersection of athleticism and queerness relate to himself as a Black male. 

An exploration of the black male body through sport

THE CONTEST, view of the exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery © Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
THE CONTEST, view of the exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery © Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

THE CONTEST unravels Jiménez’s own queer imagination to physicality. The works grapple with his deeply personal and once estranged relationship with his father, a bodybuilder and boxer. Jiménez adopts the boxer and bodybuilder as motifs, recalling early ideas of the body, specifically the Black male body. Placed within each ‘pose’ or boxing ring, the large scale boxers and body builders brawl, their positions mighty, next to bronze sculptures of heads with colorful boxing headgear. He finds beauty in the color and sculptural physicality of boxing headgear and the groin protector that transforms the body into something strong, powerful and guarded.

As a progression of Jiménez’s work, the latest iteration of his colorful collage materials allude to Western culture through the reuse of everyday materials such as wallpaper, popular clothing brand names, magazine clippings and amate, traditional bark papers of Mexican craft. The materiality of charcoal allows the artist to construct statuesque marble-like figures that make reference to Greco-Roman sculpture, and the ways male beauty has been interpreted through the lens of a Western art historical cannon. 

THE CONTEST, Mariane Ibrahim view of the exhibition © clotilde jimenez
Clothilde Jimenez, THE CONTEST, view of the exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery © Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Through physically cutting these materials out, and piecing them back together Jiménez permits the reconstruction of memories by using the material fragments of imagery which were literally part of his, possibly his father’s, and maybe even our own memories.

Clothilde Jiménez

Clotilde Jiménez’s work is primarily figurative; though there has been a departure into still life compositions, these moments also reference the body. In conventional portraiture, artists depict facial expressions to convey interior thoughts of their subjects; often particular narratives are surmised when viewing distraught eyes, a menacing grin, or a cold blank stare. Contrary to conventional modes of portraiture, like an abstractionist, Jiménez utilizes self-evaluated emotions to expressionistically create form. Through a rigorous self-analysis of his life’s emotional encounters, these forms appear as faces, bodies, and symbols, based on lived experiences, critical meditations, and an art historical dialogue.

Clotilde jimenez. Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.
Clotilde jimenez. Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Jiménez’s skillful figuration is not static, intended to be contemplated technically and formally alone. Though the sophistication of the artist’s considerable technical abilities warrants critical engagement and praise, the most compelling qualities of his work are conceptually based. In disparate modes: journal sketches, fully realized drawings and paintings, bronze sculpture, and collage, the body is consistently central, operating within individual and group portraits that privilege its expressive poses and gestures, within idiosyncratic storytelling, further accentuated by clothing and props.

THE CONTEST, view of the exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery © Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
THE CONTEST, view of the exhibition at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery © Mariane Ibrahim Gallery

Referencing intricate aspects of Jiménez’s life, strategically cut and arranged layers of multimedia collage, activate a dynamistic viewing of the visual narratives presented. “Most of my work is autobiographical, so collage allows me to tell several stories at the same time”, Jiménez states. Through a kaleidoscope lens, composite portraits within montaged vignettes, offer a dream-like gaze into the artist’s inner thoughts.

I want to be a storyteller for people who look like me. The people whose stories have been marginalized and ignored. What I want to do is be the person that I needed when growing up— someone who depicts the complexities of Black life, what it means to be queer, and how it is OK. I aim to provide greater representation of my people within the art historical canon.” Clothilde Jiménez

Clothilde Jimenez
Mariane Ibrahim
July 11 – August 22, 2020
437 N. Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60622

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About the author

Oceane Kinhouande

After graduating with a law degree from the University Panthéon-Assas Paris II, I joined ICART Paris to pursue an MBA in International Art Market. I am passionate about contemporary art from Africa and Afro-descendant cultures. I believe it is vital and important that contemporary art from Africa informs us about the multiplicity and nuances of its realities. It is also very important to me that this artistic expression be a vector of African and Afro-descendant history, identity and innovation.

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