While her first works already seemed to blur the boundaries between sculpture and photography, painting, which belonged to the artist’s past life, came to add itself to the mix, literally and figuratively, in the form of a new layer in her photographs. In her series Geometrías Pintadas (painted geometries), Laviada photographs pieces of wood in her studio that she has painted white beforehand. “Then, once these photographs are printed, I paint with acrylic paint on the photographic print this time, in order to bring the final touch to the image. Through this process, I seek to create a dialogue between photography and other artistic disciplines. What interests me is to create images that are at the intersection of photography, painting, and sculpture, in order to explore the possibilities of the photographic medium within contemporary art.” Producing images in front of which the viewer starts to doubt the nature of what he is looking at (a photographed painting or sculpture? A painted photograph?) was a successful experiment for the artist, who claims her intention is to cause confusion: “I try to blur the boundaries between representation and abstraction, between what is real and what is constructed.”
For Alejandra Laviada approaches photography “with the idea of building an image, and not of documenting something that already exists.” Her Paris gallery, Bendana-Pinel, was preparing to show her Ensamble series for the first time during Paris Photo New York–an event which, frozen in time like the rest of the world, has been postponed to 2021. In the series’ “totems”– named as such and constructed by the artist–the viewer’s gaze first recognizes furniture. He has the fleeting feeling of clinging to a familiar element… only to lose himself again, one flutter of an eyelid further inside the image, baffled by a shape that he cannot identify. Above what seems to be the fragment of a stool, we no longer know if we are dealing with another piece of furniture whose shifted point of view gives it an abstract and geometric shape, or a shape cut out from paper then glued to the image, or a painted form…?
Mexico for inspiration
With her highly conceptual approach to photography, the artist, who studied in the U.S. before returning to live in her native land (which remains her main source of inspiration), says that she finds “better reception for [her] work outside of Mexico, in places where photography is more integrated into contemporary art.” The country with a long tradition of documentary photography—and thus not necessarily always receptive to more plastic arts approaches to the medium—nevertheless impacts the work of Alejandra Laviada in a significant way. While she exhibits a lot in Europe and in the U.S., she remains very connected to and inspired by her country of origin and residence. “Mexico inspires me every day; everything that surrounds us in our daily lives touches us as artists, and comes, consciously or not, to be part of our work. I identify a lot with other artists from here, who create from the same context as me, but with completely different points of view. The experience of having lived abroad has allowed me to see Mexico from a new perspective, and to understand that my country will always be part of my work, regardless of where it is produced—in the same way as painting, which I studied at the very beginning of my career, is now fully part of my craft.”
By Elsa Leydier