Friday, September 30, 2022
HomeArtAlan Balthazar at Salón Silicón

Alan Balthazar at Salón Silicón


Enlarged, brightly colored film strips punctuated with sprocket holes hang around the tiny Salón Silicón gallery. There are seven pictures in total, all presented in thin black frames, although in another sense there are many more, overlapping and melting together within each composition. Alan Balthazar, the photographer behind these images, created hallucinatory sequences of male nudes by experimenting with multiple exposures and unusual color flash techniques: She would scribble on the flash head with red, blue, or yellow Sharpie, and sometimes paint over it with nail polish. The works on view here, with one exception, belong to a series of highly-saturated, fleshy—or better yet, beefy—portraits of the artist’s friend Edmundo Rivas. The blue monochrome Untitled (10417), 2015–2022 is a highlight, at once intimate and strange. Balthazar captures Rivas rolling around on a carpet in a pair of interpenetrating mirror images, twisting his body into an autoerotic tangle of contorted limbs and torsos.

An actress, model, DJ, photographer, and performer, Alan was a beloved multi-hyphenate in Mexico City’s burgeoning queer scene. That she is no longer with us (Alan died from an HIV-related infection in 2017) hangs heavy over the show. Flower arrangements left for her by friends and admirers sit near a wall dividing the gallery, the accolade “Great Diva” written on a ribbon beneath them. In the back corner, Untitled (8730), 2015–2022, meets our gaze—an intense and arresting self-portrait done in tight close-up and enveloped in an aura of yellow. Alan’s lips are painted black, her eyes wide and wild, illuminated by the flash. Its messy, tender carnality puts me in mind of the show’s title, “El Deseo Opaca a la Luz”—a phrase found on Alan’s Tumblr and here translated as “Lust Blocks Out the Light.” Indeed, desire was the fuel that powered Alan’s images, an equal partner to the light required to make them.

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