Insights on “It Was Something and Then It Became Something Else.”

Juan Cisneros Neumann’s exhibition isn’t just focused on the space within the gallery, but instead extends from the neighbourhood around him to all of North America. On the back wall is an illustration of the American and Canadian flags crossed with an arrow pointing to LA LA LAND. Hollywood being a huge influencer of both countries culture and consumerism. There is also a galaxy in a frame seemingly out of place. But with the knowledge that it is the “Sombero Galaxy” one can make connections to both major symbols of  heritage and the truly infinitesimal importance of man in the universe.

Not only are the symbols of his illustrations compelling, but the material itself as well. Juan created his drawings with hand made crayons consisting of chilli peppers, beeswax, and earth. Different chilli peppers were used to achieve the range of colours. These organic marking materials have a faint scent that is enhanced by the slow cooking chilli peppers in the gallery. The materiality is soft and has deep cultural ties showing the artists hand. His reflexivity to his environment is also present in his drawings.

At first look one might wonder “Who is Jordan Eng? And why is he leasing the land?”  A little attention to the neighbourhood reveals the answer – his signs are across the street advertising prime China town real estate. His signs are actually all over the area. Juan has also chosen to include the paper which protests the gentrification of the area and rallies to save  105 Keefer street from development, and contrast it on the same window with a historical illustration depicting the bounty of the “new world.” His work is enjoyable, but also includes serious awareness of the history of colonialism and present day world issues. As with most art you could say the work is a reflection of Juan Cisneros Neumann himself – Or you could have entirely your own interpretation of it and that works too. There’s lots more to see in this show. It’s definitely not one to miss.

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