Cristina BanBan’s current exhibition combines memory, Spanish culture and the feelings of being apart from your family
Since moving to New York, the Spanish artist has shifted the focus of her work. Here, she tells us about her current exhibition at 1969 Gallery in NYC.
- Ruby Boddington
- 10 July 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
It’s safe to say Spanish artist Cristina BanBan has had a busy year. It’s one she describes as “pretty intense,” recalling “a solo show in NYC at 1969 Gallery, in Berlin at 68 Projects and a solo presentation at Volta Art Fair, Basel.” She also participated in three group shows in New York and Miami, officially moving to Brooklyn last November after scoring her artist visa.
While many artists found themselves frustrated and unable to access their usual creative spaces during lockdown, Cristina was lucky enough to be in short walking distance of her studio. She, therefore, spent March, April and part of May working on Tigre y Paloma, a solo exhibition which is originally open in May at 1969 Gallery in the Lower East Side, and which is now once again open until this Sunday, 12 July.
The title of the exhibition is taken from a poem by renowned Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca titled El poeta pide a su amor que le escriba (which translates as “the poet asks his love to write”). In this poem, he speaks of waiting in isolation, begging for his lover to write back to his and “fill his madness with speech.” Cristina, in turn, took inspiration from the work as she “found that the opposition within the two concepts ‘Tigre y Paloma’, (tiger as a symbol for passion, dove for tenderness), resonated with the mix of emotions I was going through at that moment.”
Whereas in the past, much of Cristina’s works has depicted the “exciting, bustling landscape of New York City,” especially in her last show at 1969 Gallery, this new series sees her focus shift to her hometown, popular figures in Spanish culture and the ramifications of being apart from her family during the pandemic. “After moving to the US and being surrounded by different people I started to look for what defines me as a person, I started to question my own identity after relocating to a new place,” she further explains. “I decided to focus on my memories of where I come from and how I grew up.”
GalleryCristina BanBan: Tigre y Paloma
As with recollections, some of the depicted characters in the series are real, others are imaginary “but they helped me recreate a memory from childhood like in Ratoncito Perez, Siesta and La Costa Daurada which depicts a typical beach scene on the north seaside of Catalunya.”
The paintings in the show are therefore all connected, telling “an autobiographical story where the characters and environments bring you to the Spanish culture and familiar, personal moments.” One piece, for example titled El Prat De Llobregat, 2PM, depicts a meal time with the artist and her family members present – it’s a chaotic but warm image, familiar to anyone with a large family. It’s also an example of how Cristina bends reality in the show to fit a mould, one she idealises or remembers somewhat hazily. “I played with the time,” she tells us, “I am represented as an adult while my grandparents were still there, but that is the memory I wanted to bring. I wanted to represent each of them with their own personality and bring aspects of our traditions and culture. We used to have lunch around 2pm, as it is the time where we all could meet, between morning and afternoon shifts at work. At home it was important to eat together even though we had different schedules; we always made the time.”
She continues on the piece: “In my head, the scene is loud with the sound of the TV on in the background while my grandfather is already sleeping and my grandma is worrying as usual after watching the afternoon news. I depicted the food and drinks often at our table in detail – red wine and Casera (a Spanish brand of soda), cocido (traditional stew) and a bread typical from Extremadura, west of Spain and next to Portugal, where my dad's side of the family comes from.”
In contrast, the works on paper to portray “anxiety and worry in the figures as a reflection of these uncertain times,” like the work titled Homesick. Cristina tells us that Quang, the gallerist she works with describes how the show became a “‘collage of time filled with nostalgia and memories.” As with all of Cristina’s work, you can’t help but be captivated by her larger than life figures, whose emotions play out as dramatically as their enlarged features do. Through the tilt of someone’s head or the composition of several bodies, you truly feel the fondness or melancholy imbued within each work.
While Cristina has managed to retain a certain level of normalcy as of late, plans for travelling of course still seem unlikely. So, she says, she “will be working in the studio during summer preparing for some group shows this year and a double-solo exhibition in May 2021 at 1969 and Albertz Benda Gallery.” And we’ll be keeping an eye out for that new work too!
GalleryCristina BanBan: Tigre y Paloma
Lagrimitas De Cocodrilo, 2020
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.