Randal Arvilla — Encáustica Contemporánea

Randal Arvilla,  Atl (Water),  2016, encaustic and oil painting on board, 60x60cm

Randal Arvilla, Atl (Water), 2016, encaustic and oil painting on board, 60x60cm

I worked with Australian-Costa Rican artist Randal Arvilla to curate his exhibition Encáustica Contemporánea. The exhibition presented a vast body of Arvilla’s latest encaustic work at Gauge Gallery from 26 October – 6 November 2016. I assisted with the choice of works, exhibition design and hang, exhibition text, gallery liaison, DL and A5 essay and flyer design, advertising listings and public programming events.

Opening: 6-8pm Wednesday 26 October
Artist’s talk: 2pm Saturday 29 October

View more of Randal Arvilla's works on his new website


Exhibition Text

Like a palimpsest layered with levels of inscription, effacing and building on the layers beneath, Arvilla’s encaustic paintings and sculptures map a history of mark-making.

Arvilla considers this ancient painting technique, first used to render likenesses on Roman-Egyptian portrait sarcophagi, through a contemporary lens of colour and abstraction. Utilising found objects, collage and spray paint alongside his encaustic wax work, Arvilla also embeds carbon from the printed page within layers of painted hot wax, scraping away the paper to imprint the carbonised black images.

Nuanced themes of cultural identity, memory, loss and place course through the works. From the layers, a matador emerges, and in the calm Icon faces, Arvilla’s grandmother is remembered as the steadfast heart of his family. She looks out towards Arvilla as a child in the paired altar-like sculptures, forming a communion between the figures. Elsewhere the excesses of contemporary life are found in Bacchic spreads of advertising imagery; whilst quietly, refugees are caught in the compass quadrant of North, East, South, West. The circular tondi channel elemental landscapes through abstract mark-making, to embody the sun (Tonaltzintli), the moon (Metztli) and water (Atl) as fundamental life-giving forces.

Arvilla invites personal interactions with his works; this is experienced physically through his Self-Portrait when examined by hand. Viewed in the round, the encaustic disk bolsters a conception of Arvilla’s works as simultaneously sculptures and paintings, devoid of the traditional distinction. In this melding of form, history and motif, Arvilla creates boldly contemporary encaustics.

Randal Arvilla is a Costa Rican Australian painter and sculptor. Arvilla studied Painting at the National Art School of Australia and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of San Francisco. He was awarded the St. Vincent’s Hospital and National Art School Painting Exhibition Award (2011) and was Runner-Up in the John Olsen Figure Drawing Prize (National Art School, 2011). Arvilla has been an exhibiting finalist in the Fleurieu Food and Wine Art Prize (2016), Chippendale New World Art Prize (2016), Fisher’s Ghost Award (2015), St. George Art Award (2014, 2012), and Waverley Art Prize (2012).