Alicia Paz & Michael Szpakowski

Beecroft Art Gallery

29 May - 7 August 2021

RĂ­o y Mar (River and Sea) is an exhibition by visual artist Alicia Paz at Beecroft Gallery, Southend-on-Sea UK from Saturday 29th May 2021 to Saturday 7th August 2021. This show is curated by Lassla Esquivel, founder of Periferia Projects.

Presenting new paintings, sculptures and installations, in this exhibition Paz reflects on the construction of female identity in relation to geography, partly inspired by research into the imagery of the Thames Estuary. More broadly, Alicia has explored the metaphorical dimension and rich symbolism of the sea, and of estuaries and rivers, considering them as areas of movement, exchange, transition and renewal. Within this context, she examines historical female figures, as well as international relationships of mutual support and women’s empowerment.

The exhibition RĂ­o y Mar is pertinent in the context of Beecroft Gallery as it resonates with works in its permanent collection that depict ships and seascapes, as well as female attires such as vintage wedding dresses and dated bathing costumes. These themes anchored her artistic production and inspired works like the female swimmers among other significant female portraits.

A sound piece, Soñadoras, by artist Michael Szpakowski, based on an idea by Alicia Paz, will be presented as part of the exhibition. The piece is accessible by scanning the QR code on the exhibition poster and at the gallery and following this URL:

This exhibition has been generously supported by Arts Council England. The project is in partnership with ESCALA, Collection of Latin-American Art and is in participation with the Estuary 2021 Associated Programme.

About the artists
Alicia Paz is a multicultural visual artist, born and raised in Mexico, and based in London for several years. She studied at Goldsmiths College and Royal College of Art, in London. She has also lived and worked in France and in the USA, and her body of work has been shown internationally.

In her practice, Paz investigates identity and the notion of a divided author, exploring the mutability of subjectivity through a diverse range of media such as paintings, collages and sculptures. The artist focuses on the female figure: the Self is experienced and presented as multiple, paradoxical, and in flux. Inhabiting fantastical landscapes, her feminine subjects become fused and combined with organic life. Her work at times incorporates visual elements taken from applied and decorative arts, such as ceramic delftware, using these registers as a vehicle for intertwining narratives. Other recent subjects include cultural hybridity and representations of family, exploring the complexities of kinship and lineage in a globalised world. Alicia Paz has presented solo exhibitions in the UK, France, Germany, Mexico, and Argentina, and recently with Michael Szpakowski at the Museo Leonora Carrington in Mexico (2019). Her show at Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Germany (2016) was accompanied by a bilingual monograph published by VfMK, Vienna. As a multicultural artist, Paz’s work was included in the group show Tous, des sang-mêlés, held at MACVAL, Vitry-sur-Seine, France (2017). Earlier solo projects include an exhibit at Dukan Gallery in Leipzig (2014), Mexican Cultural Institute in Paris (2013), Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London (2006) and Ruth Benzacar Gallery in Buenos Aires (2005).

Michael Szpakowski is a British artist, composer and educator, well known in the international scene of contemporary art, as evidenced by his extensive record of exhibitions, awards and high-profile publications throughout Europe and the United States. He has been awarded a PhD by publication from the University of Westminster for his body of work and dissertation entitled: Scenes of Provincial Life: An online video sequence and commentary. His short films have been shown throughout the world. He is a joint editor of the online video resource DVblog. Michael’s work explores the mystery of everyday life and of being human in a particular place and time. His extensive artistic practice encompasses not only film and video, but also painting, drawing, sound works, and critical writing.

Lassla Esquivel will act as guest curator, liaising with the Beecroft Art Gallery and ESCALA (Collection of Latin American Art of the University of Essex, partners in this project). She is an Art historian, independent curator and researcher based in the UK. Her curatorial projects have been showcased in Latin America, Asia-Pacific regions, Europe and the UK. Founder of Periferia Projects, a curatorial platform creating connections between Latin America, the UK and Europe. Periferia’s focus is to develop projects with artists from emerging hubs to enhance their visibility and promote collaboration with new galleries, artists and institutions.

Beecroft Gallery has a permanent collection of over 2000 works, ranging from 17th-century Dutch paintings to contemporary works. The collection includes examples by artists such as Molenaer, Ruisdael and Berchem plus 19th-century artists including Rossetti, Constable and Edward Lear. There are works by Carel Weight, the Great Bardfield Group, and a fine bronze by Jacob Epstein. The local artist Alan Sorrell is represented by his Drawings of Nubia series depicting a visit to Egypt prior to the building of the Aswan Dam. The Thorpe Smith Collection of local landscape views contains paintings, drawings and prints from as early as 1803.

Social Media Handles:

#AliciaPaz #rioymar #beecroftgallery #periferiaprojects #assocprog2021 #estuaryfestival2021

Images on high resolution are available on request. Studio Visits live or online upon request. Available dates in June, July and August 2021.