I’d met Brielle DuFlon a few times before sitting down to interview her for La Cuadra. I didn’t know much about her, and some of what I’d assumed was far off base. As she is a tall, blond, English speaking Caucasian, I figured she was from the States. But when I noted that her recent paintings are distinctly, intentionally Guatemalan, she caught me off-guard.
“Well, that makes sense,” she said. “So am I.”
DuFlon noticed my hesitation and said, “And, yes, that’s the look I normally get when I tell people I’m from here. Then they ask me how.”
“I explain to them that my impeccable American accent comes from having spent the last six years living in the United States and speaking English at home. I have roots in both North and Central America. But Guatemala is my home.”
She continued, “Growing up, the people around me usually had darker skin than mine. Physically, I was very different. I am a minority in this country, and sometimes I feel like an impostor. Or, rather, I feel as though I might not be welcome to share all of the parts of the culture. But I consider myself a Latin-American artist more than an American artist. I find myself wanting to paint many of the same images as they do — the colors, the fruits, the figures, the angels, the devils, the textiles and the communal spaces. I hope others see me that way, or get to see me that way, eventually.”
Brielle DuFlon, whose parents are also Caucasian-Latin-American artist, has long lived in between any number of worlds. And it is to her great credit that she has developed a visual language which allows her free range of expression in them all.
Selected here are images from two distinct periods in DuFlon’s career. The woodcuts and stone lithographs were completed while working in the United States. The woodcuts, specifically, were exhibited in a show entitled, “Running Back,” which DuFlon describes as a “celebration of memory.”
“I tried to confront and explore childhood memories that remained so firmly in mind while others had disappeared completely. I only made six woodcuts, and an edition of six prints for each. I wanted to work in a traditional style, monochromatic and heavily detailed, with every corner as intricate as the center.
“The show was meant to be the sort of thing a child would find interesting, but that could also resonate for an adult. And it did. Adults who came to the gallery shared with me stories of their own, wherein they’d lived similar experiences in some other part of the world. It made me realize how similar we all are, and how much I enjoy provoking that ‘I know exactly what you mean’ feeling in the audience: an image that harkens to some deep emotion that they are convinced is complex and unique, but that has resonance in all of us.”
Speaking further about the earlier work, DuFlon coins an elegant phrase. “Printmaking,” she says, “is a perfect venue for the uncanny.”
“I enjoy making images that are lightly disturbing or dark. They make people think. Also, they are excellent in conveying complexity and thought. Why do you think Goya, Escher and Munch chose this medium so often? Also, I like working in greyscale. It requires you to play in volume, space and shadow. In relief printing, there are few colors, therefore texture and perspective have to make up for the lack of a more varied palette.”
Drawing the conversation to her more recent work, I noted that the newer paintings (absolute explosions of color) are, in some ways, the polar opposite of the monochromatic woodcuts and lithographs.
She corrected me, noting that, while they are more chromatically vibrant, the paintings also are finely detailed from border to border. “There’s a lot going on outside the center of the paintings.”
“But you’re right,” she continued. “I love color. I love mixing colors. At present I’m using oils because of the depth and the softness, the velvety texture of the paints. But I’ve carried over much of the graphic sense from the printmaking.”
Speaking of her upcoming show at La Galería de Panza Verde (5th Avenida Sur, #19, La Antigua), DuFlon becomes engagingly buoyant.
“The show is called, La Equación del Ser (The Equation of Being). There are constants and variables in the construction of the self. There are things we can’t escape, things we choose to hold on to, things we let go, things we make bigger, things we make smaller. And what we choose to identify, to focus upon, brings us closer with others that choose the same traits.”
“I’ve chosen a surrealist path lately. In surrealism I’m trying to explore the conscious and the subconscious. The idea of the self is abstract, when not explicitly anatomical. It needs to be placed in space to be visually comprehensible. I’m aiming to represent feelings and thoughts as shapes, compartments, absences, colors, skies, symbolic objects and the body itself. We exist in this world both internally and externally. Our dreams, our desires, our physicality, our subconscious, our thoughts, our sexuality are all integral to understanding our relationship with the world and with one another.”
And Brielle DuFlon, who has brilliantly balanced between, and existed within, such different worlds is an excellent guide.
Do not miss this show.