Patricia Fernandez “A Record of Succession”

Patricia Fernández, “Record of Succession” installation view

Hmm. “From the collection of Rebecca: You must have seen the greatest change” (sewn buttons on linen, 2012) might be a sampler, a piece made to show off a selection of buttons. And “From the collection of Rebecca: Covers” – what sort of geometry is this? I see a triangle, or it might be a forked bird foot drawn, painted with buttons on blue fabric. A line of dark blue embroidery thread closes the triangle and above this a similar black line overscores it. It brings to my mind Native American symbols for the sky. Two white buttons “fill” the triangle and I think now that Patricia Fernández is using white – the color – as a material, and that another artist might use a metallic finish or a mirror. While white lacks the reflective quality, still it throws light and catches my eye. I wonder about the use in art of reflection as a stand-in for the self, and whether the void of white can accept identity in the same manner.

Patricia Fernández, “From the Collection of Rebecca: The First Floor.,” 2012
Sewn buttons and dyed linen 16 x 13 inches

I find impressions of buttons in the color of the fabric, these could be sun bleached over time or hard pressed by the artist (I picture her, weary from cutting into wood her trademark “x” pattern, laying her heavy hands on these buttons, thus still at work even in rest.) Elsewhere among these small paintings I find impressed small flowers.

I wonder about squares that I see, like pockets on aprons these are, but they look gouged as in solid color – it’s interesting that fabric, linen, soaked through with different hues resembles less a painted on surface and more color itself as substance and as support.

Patricia Fernández, “From the Collection of Mari Carmen: de tu santo.,” 2012
Sewn buttons, thread and dye
12 x 10 inches

Another right triangle is over-extended on a square (from a pillowcase or a sheet?) a button matches here its background and a cross of white (again) stark against the darkness holds this button true.

About these “x”es, this repetitive mark that Fernandez makes, it occurs to me how they resemble scarification, a ritual marking of one’s body, of one’s self. Given her interest in her grandfather carver and now this Rebecca with her buttons, I wonder if Fernandez carries the mark of her forbears upon her skin – through her art, metaphoric flesh that it is? And now the marks repeat themselves as symbols, on cardboard, which itself is a signifier for wood. Like wood, cardboard holds, it encloses; cardboard supports and insulates and protects, poor people wear cardboard in their shoes.

Patricia Fernández, “A Record of Succession: drawing for left wall,” 2012
Carved frame, cardboard and ink
48.5 x 37 inches

Patricia Fernandez allows into her art the homespun formality of keepsakes – her carved boxes could be jewel caskets and they have about them the hush of my grandmother’s vanity. I can smell powder where there is none, and old perfume, too. In one of these boxes lies a ceramic rock, in a color that is yellow chartreuse – or the suggestion of it. This object is porous, not shiny with glaze but soft as with age. In another carved chest I could see a white bone-like thing resting on a pillow of fabric. Both of these objects are simple, reticent even, and in their quietness they feel significant. I think this is the way with Fernández’s work.

“A Record of Succession” at ltd los angeles through July 7:

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