Wonder Boy Complex

What has most distinguished the painting of Xavier Coronel (Guayaquil, 1988) is that it resists being defined by a concrete and evident framework of interests. His ambition with regard to this is manifested, however, in his decided inclination towards large formats, against the progressive domestication of local contemporary painting in the last ten years. In spite of the indications he provides in the titles and figurative suggestions, his heroic-scale paintings allow us to perceive – in certain passages – a formal filiation for abstraction, where expressive gestures and a particular way of applying paint that may evoke the post-war art of the New York School are revealed: a bet on the emotional flashes that texture, colour and other plastic resources and ideas such as – in his words – “the stain, the slant, the void, the dis-framing, the distortion”, can achieve.

In his approach, that narrative hermeticism with which he has sought throughout his career to shield his works – his propensity to build fiction upon fiction exponentially – seems to have gone hand in hand with the “inherent impulse towards the abstract” towards which he gravitated, based on his subjective understanding of abstraction as a language/concept that overflows its usual interpretation as the simple antithesis of representation.

This “filmmaker-painter”, as the artist has defined himself, has asserted himself in an extreme freedom of approach that has led him to produce an entire exhibition fabulising an extraterrestrial invasion over the landscapes of the Ecuadorian coast (Omari Fox Bay, 2016), or to elaborate a dense plot where he interweaves science fiction and Latin American political intrigue, tracing apocryphal links between the cinema of Ridley Scott and the literary fiction of Joseph Conrad (Nostromo, 2018), and then producing, for example, paintings in which he uses captures of a live stream of Justin Bieber in his backyard throwing golf balls into the swimming pool.

For the series that makes up this exhibition – entitled Wonder Boy Complex – the artist confronts the links between the historical figure of the child prodigy and his extraordinary imagination in adolescence, an oblique way of addressing the long memory of the autobiographical that has also appeared in other instances of his work. In the choice of imagery for his recent work, there does not seem to be a process of conscious attraction to the referents used, nor a desire to weave a superficial discourse around the specificity of each image. Coronel affirms himself in an apology for the “unimportant”, and this is where the political aspect of his gesture resides, by opting precisely for an antithesis of the high-flown rhetoric and over-intellectualisation that accompanies much of the art of the present in order to return it with an inverted logic: the vindication of the banal through grandiloquence.

Illich Castillo’s catalogue
Leandro Pesantes Catalogue