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New Heaven: Cecilia Mandrile

November 14, 6-8 pm



For Cecilia Mandrile, the experience of art is like the experience of life. In it, artworks are born sometimes in blessed circumstances, sometimes in painful ones. They grow (in meaning); they mature and age. They could also re-invent themselves once in a while. In this world, museums become hospices of sort, homes for the aging works of art, which require care. Maybe that’s why their custodians are named curators, a word that has its roots in curare.


Her art-making process became a workshop for metaphorically healing and repairing bodies, very much in the way heaven is promised to us. And yet she was able to infuse this promise with her own inner world. Early in her career, she was attracted to printmaking. This imprint remained central to her work for years. Using a digital, portable matrix, Mandrile multiplied an undistinguishable image of herself on every imagined surface to create toys and dolls. In doing so, she connected with the tradition of icon-making, an ancient technique that she then developed with contemporary tools.


When discussing the Byzantine icon, Bissera V. Pentcheva points out, “The icon was perceived as matter imbued with charis, or divine grace. As matter, this object was meant to be physically experienced. Touch, smell, taste, and sound all contributed to the experience of "seeing" the portable portrait.” Likewise, Mandrile often presents her objects within ambiences that allow for the viewer to experience them as part of a multi-sensorial reality. That is why, although they often look like installations, her works are heavily object-based. And as with icons, these objects come with a story that may draw as much from reality as it does from fantasy. In some cases, Mandrile offered them up for adoption.


After a life changing illness, Mandrile’s work has undergone a fundamental change. Her self-portrait now yields to ghostly images, developed as photograms. Very much resembling the dolls she once possessed, these images become in turn the base of a praxinoscope—which she titled, Betweenoscope. This proto-cinema device is here a substitute for those sensorial aspects that the dolls had. This ultimate attempt to animate the images only emphasizes their immateriality. These are merely shadows of what once was; shadows of an otherworldly light: the light of a New Heaven.


Elvis Fuentes (El Museo del Barrio)  

Yuneikys Villalonga (Lehman College Art Gallery)


Cecilia Mandrile (Argentina, 1969) has exhibited in prestigious international venues. Her work has been featured at El Museo del Barrio, NYC; The Victoria & Albert Museum, London; WPA Corcoran, Washington DC; and the National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Solo exhibition venues include Genaro Perez Museum and Recoleta Cultural Center, Argentina; Kunstihoone Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia; St Peter’s Heritage Center, London; and Makan in Amman, Jordan. Her work is included in private and public collections around the world; among them, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium; Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California; Gyor Museum of Art, Hungary. Mandrile was also a visiting artist at international residency programs such as Gasworks Studios, London; Kala Art Institute, Berkeley; Frans Maseerel Graphic Center, Belgium and Ludwig Foundation of Cuba. Mandrile holds a PhD from Bristol School of Art, Media and Design, UK; an MFA from the University of Maryland, and a BFA from the University of Cordoba, Argentina. She teaches art at the University of New Haven.