Fantasia Fantastica: Imaginative Spaces and Other-Worldy Collages
The National Hispanic Cultural Center


art review ABQ, 2016, Vol 1, p.8

The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s latest show, Fantasia Fantastica: Imaginative Spaces and Other-Worldly Collage, showcases four New Mexican artists whose work pushes the boundaries of space and imagination. Spanning across a variety of mediums and subject matter, artists Nick Abdalla, Cynthia Cook, Carlos Quinto Kemm, and Rachel Muldez assemble common, often overlooked materials into stunning, and fantastical scenes and structures.

Each artist’s work explores the environments which they create, and it’s in this respect that the freely open idea of space is able to adhere one body of work to the next.

Nick Abdalla’s organic sculptures act almost as a guide to the world of Fantastia Fantastica, both setting the tone and driving home the other-worldly aspects right from the start. Abdalla’s shapes themselves are arbitrary, plucked from the artist’s mind and forged in the heat of the moment. The spontaneity of Abdalla’s process is ever present. Each piece looks as if it was plucked from a dying alien world, and serves to push Fantasia Fantastica’s weird factor to its fullest.

Artist Cynthia Cook fuses New Mexican traditions with the fantastic.Using old photographs, seed pods, and even wasp nests, Cook’s unique collages depict outlandish cosmic scenes. The most immediately recognizable aspect of Cook’s work is her traditional, delicate New Mexican tin framing. Made from masterfully processed recycled tin, Cook’s collages blend the familiar with the surreal in an almost seamless fashion.

Carlos Quinto Kemm’s collage work astonishes the eye and demands attention as soon eyes are laid upon it. Drawing the viewer in with incredible attention to detail, delicate precision, and breathtaking scenes, Quinto Kemm’s unique collages create a grand and mythic story narrative. His worlds of fables and mythology call forth a sense of wonder and awe, offering the viewer a journey of discovery for their own personal symbols and interpretations.

Lastly, Rachel Muldez’s work brings viewer’s heads out of the alien and into a more grounded, fantastical reimagining of the natural world. Each of Muldez’s sculptures resembles an organic form mid-evolution, writhing with life and pausing only when eyes are upon it. Her carefully crafted forms look as natural and seamless as the living world, and each piece comes together to create an atmosphere that one might find on a peaceful walk through the woods.

Whimsical, bizarre, breathtaking: these are but a few words unable to eke out the awe and scale of Fantasia Fantastica. Like a painting of a fire, words do not do it justice, and these works must be experienced to believed. Every artist showcased masterfully creates a powerful and striking relationship between delicacy, space, and the the viewer’s mind, making Fantasia Fantastica a breathtaking show that both excites and plucks at the imagination, leaving you wanting more.

Joshua Richardson