Ana Castillo: Seeing electric optimism in colour

Busily and inquisitively settled at the intersections of pop culture, fashion, and an electric type of colour theory, Ana Castillo finds herself in green. Her current exhibition, Scroll, is on at SheBAM! until 24 April. Gravitating towards certain colours, images, textures, and people has opened up Castillo’s understanding of the world around her by using artistic expression as a rocket ship through it all. Castillo can be considered the astronaut. She explores unknown worlds, being sure to collect evidence thereof along the way. These sometimes infinitesimal pieces of life may formulate as scraps of paper. Each piece, each shape, size, colour indicates a certain aspect of our culture as humans.

Ana Castillo, astronaut

The multitude of personalities, emotions, life itself involved in Castillo’s works seem like an entry way into a different world altogether. Perhaps we have seen this world in a dream. Castillo can thus be seen as the middleman, silently and tracelessly taking note of things that pass the rest of us by. She turns them into crimson, chrome, and gold. She archives, smiles and yells, as they fleet past like scenes from the windows of a train, almost too quickly to even catch a glimpse.

This is the art which Castillo has mastered above all: catching and protecting glimpses too far ahead for the rest of us.

Perhaps this is why the artist’s work appears dreamlike. We all see these glimpses everyday. We’re just not aware of it anymore.

Ana Castillo, Scroll, SheBAM! Gallery, photo by DOTGAIN
Ana Castillo, Scroll, installation view SheBAM! Gallery, photo by DOTGAIN

Castillo’s collections inform her practice of collage-making. She assembles, cuts, and rearranges material consciousness like pieces of a cake. The result is something instantly recognisable, but perhaps a few steps removed from the unavoidable negativity we are forced into contact with through our consumption of media. Castillo carefully, yet determinedly, shifts away from this iteration of media into something almost too egregious to engage with these days: optimism.

Glittery blue-green skies

Through the bold yet matter-of-fact use of colour (with a recent affinity for green) coupled with dreamlike almost whimsical imagery, Castillo’s work speaks toward the confluence of years worth of layers of visual imagery in the media. When confronted with this specific lineage, it is impossible not to ask the question of where one fits into this continuum. Where are we in a world that has been repeatedly copied and repurposed in infinite different contexts? It’s a rather overwhelming realisation. But then again, isn’t trying to find clarity and truth through layers of chaos and uncertainty the constant grapple of our times?

In trying to weave together the puzzle of images Castillo presents us in a comic strip format, the stark delight of the images are apparent. The high contrast of this bubblegum fantasy world and our own type of escapist fantasy world of constant images, faces, names, stories, makes for a position of embrace. Castillo embraces the chaos, rock ‘n roll, hate, turmoil, all of it! Then she mediates it through pencils and colour into something fantastical.

Finding self by embracing chaos

Castillo’s fearless declaration of colour and beauty does not however take an ignorant position of that which it opposes. It is simply saying, “I see you. But I choose to see more.”

  Written by Monique du Plessis

Ana Castillo

SheBAM! Spinnerei until 24 April 2021

next at SheBAM!: Anastasia Bay Tiptoe opens 1 May 2021

note: All galleries at Spinnerei are open this Saturday and not affected by the new Infektionsschutzgesetz reguations. If you haven’t taken a test in the last 24 hours, they will have rapid tests available at Archiv Massiv gallery. Bring your phone for click and meet and any other form of registering that’s in place.

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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