Critics’ Picks

View of “Noé Jimenez: Paintings on Salmon,” 2015.

View of “Noé Jimenez: Paintings on Salmon,” 2015.

New Haven

Noé Jimenez

Lyric Hall
827 Whalley Avenue
March 29–May 10, 2015

Thirty-six paintings by Noé Jimenez hang in clusters around the salon of this Vaudeville theater. Sporting irregular, petal-shaped manes of striped wood that seem to expand and contract from their centers, the works suggest a capacity for life. Such potential is also communicated by their onomatopoeic and animated titles, including Achoo Not Atchu and Red Smushes Green, both 2015. Adding to their liveliness, they read as paintings then sculptures in the same breath.

Jimenez begins each work by cutting and reassembling stacks of old family photographs taken from the 1960s to the present, with the oldest shot in the Dominican Republic, where parts of his family still live. He assembles the scraps into one rectangular form, adding semitranslucent glazes of acrylic paint to create the effect of a topcoat. In the end, the photographs are completely obscured by this painting process, yet they retain the spirited Day-Glo palette typical of Dominican textiles and landscapes.

These works’ interdisciplinary construction resonates with the profoundly sculptural quality of Stan Brakhage’s experimental films, where images exist as a physical layer of matter resting atop naked celluloid strips. Given Jimenez’s disinterest in starting with a white canvas, it makes sense that he sought this renovated parlor with its salmon-pink walls for his show. Just as his paintings are vessels for family stories, this venue houses a century of antiques salvaged from sites around New Haven that no longer exist. Clearly then, renovation and revival is the business here.