Adrian Rivera's "Holy City Trinity" is the largest piece in the collection | Courtesy Redux Contemporary Art Center

Redux Contemporary Art Center is holding true to its mission of cultivating diverse contemporary art with its new residency program, The Lightning Residency. 

On view now through July 15, is Intangibles, a two-person exhibition of the program’s first residents, Adrian Lopez Rivera and Landon Carter. Highlights of the exhibition include emotionally driven multimedia works by Carter, existing in the space between painting and sculpture, and an impactful, multifigural triptych by Rivera, which sparks conversation about housing and inequality in the Holy City.

The Lightning Residency at Redux on upper King Street is a fast-paced, six-week residency program that creates opportunities for emerging artists by providing access to studio space and an opportunity to showcase their work at no cost. During the residency, artists work diligently on a comprehensive project which is installed in the back gallery of Redux when the residency ends.

The largest piece in the show is Rivera’s “Holy City Trinity,” a triptych composed of three large canvases, complete with a red line drawing that continues onto the wall behind the oil paintings. Characteristic of Rivera’s work, the multifigural triptych interweaves complex narratives. Rivera explained that, even though he is not related to the Mexican mural artist Diego Rivera, he takes inspiration from the iconic artist in terms of content. 

“I am a big fan of the works of Diego Rivera. I admire that a lot of his work was focused on the people, on all people,” Rivera said. “The murals he painted in Mexico City were big influences on my composition for the tryptic. He understood how to put figures together to tell you a socio-political story.

“The main theme of the triptych is housing,” Rivera added. “The three panels represent three different living conditions. The city has been amongst the highest in terms of gentrification for some time and this is really visible. You can see new developments turning into ‘luxury’ apartments with a townhouse next door that is falling apart.”

The middle panel is based loosely on the artist’s apartment complex. We peek into a window where many people sit packed in a crowded space. Some figures fall out of the space, while others try to climb in.

“There is a history anywhere you go, and sometimes tourism overtakes telling the whole truth. Charleston is so much more than just Rainbow Row and horse-drawn carriages, and it feels insensitive to paint this city as just that. There is history here which still affects the everyday lives of disenfranchised communities … The city is full of contrast.”

Rivera confronts his viewer with what is hidden beneath the surface. Viewers of this artwork may find themselves wondering: Who does work in Charleston to support our constant expansion and gentrification? Who gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor? 

“Holy City Trinity” is shown alongside Carter’s “If I Am Lost It’s Only For a Little While.” Carter has developed a technique of layering paints and resin to create surrealist works that exist in the space between painting and sculpture. 

“One thing that Landon and I talked about during our shared time at Redux was self-expression,” Rivera said. “We both made art that was highly personal.”

Carter sees his mission as an artist to connect people and show that we are not alone in our emotions.

“To create extremely vulnerable work, like I did for this show at Redux, and have people visibly connect with it is just so fulfilling,” he said. “It was my first public showing in Charleston. Seeing people take pictures of my work and being excited to see it … that never gets old.”

“This is by far the most emotional piece of art I have ever made,” Carter explained. “I sketched out the idea for this in March of last year on a trip to Brevard, North Carolina, where I was thinking a lot about the past several years.” 

When Carter dropped out of The Citadel during his senior year, it caused division between him and his community. He picked up a job dishwashing, though he was still dissatisfied with his surroundings. 

“The only thing that got me through each shift was imagining different places I would rather be. Creating imaginary landscapes from my memories in my head where things were better helped me realize that a place like that was possible … and that I could ask for help.”

The painting depicts two dishwashing hands, with one protruding out of a mountain range. Carter sees the work as a love letter to artmaking, self-preservation and change. 

“Thinking back on these memories through making this work, it really helps to put in perspective how much I have done for myself, and how much other people have done for me as well. This painting encompasses what got me through some of the hardest times in my life,” he said.

Carter hopes that viewers of “If I Am Lost, It’s Only For a Little While,” may connect to the emotionality of his artmaking practice.

Intangibles closes July 15. Carter and Rivera will participate in artist talks at Redux in the coming weeks.

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