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'Fresh Cut Fruit'
Justin Favela, 'Still Life With Plantains and Bananas,' 'After Francisco Oller,' 2022. Tissue paper and glue on board, 21 in x 38 in. Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

Artist Justin Favela graces Philly’s Paradigm Gallery with piñata and Latin American still life-inspired pieces

Unique pieces from the artist will be displayed at the gallery’s ‘Fresh Cut Fruit’ exhibit opening this Friday through to April 17.

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Las Vegas, Nevada-born mixed-media artist Justin Favela made a name in Philly when he presented a “piñata-d” lowrider at the city’s Navy Yard in 2020.

The lowrider was a 1984 Thunderbird. The vehicle bears significance to Favela in its relation to his Guatemalan mother. 

Now, Favela’s work will return to Philly at the Paradigm Gallery. The gallery will be housing a solo exhibit from Favela, Fresh Cut Fruit, from now through to April 17.

Aspects of Favela’s work celebrate his Guatemalan, Mexican, and American heritage.

Fresh Cut Fruit combines artwork made from paper, piñata-style paintings, sculptures, and a large mural. The mural takes inspiration from 19th and 20th century Latin American still lifes.

“Favela reveals the settler-colonial infrastructure embedded within the visual representations of fruit and landscapes. The artist’s paper renditions reclaim power and identity from the canonically imperial bodies of work they reference,” said Paradigm Gallery in a statement.

Through connecting to the still lifes, Favela displays an understanding of the agricultural bounty and culture that the depicted crops and plants originated from.

The gallery is promising “thousands” of hand-cut tissue paper pieces incorporated into pixelated presentations of works such as Still Life With Plantains and Bananas from the Puerto Rican artist Francisco Oller.

This is done in an attempt to revive work that has been dismissed and present it once again for renewed consideration.

“Historically dismissed as surface-level representations, still lifes, as seen by Favela, reveal cultural, social, and political insights that transcend their appearance as naturalistic depictions of fruit,” said Paradigm Gallery. 

In this Fresh Cut Fruit, Favela also speaks to the piñata’s role within American culture as a vessel for sweets and commodification.

The motif is intended to speak to the absurdities of inauthentic Latin American culture in the West.

In 2021, Favela received the Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship. This annual fellowship provides 15 U.S.-based artists with $60,000 of unrestricted funds.

The funds grant an immediate $20,000 to recipients with payments of $10,000 each in the following four years.

The Fresh Cut Fruit exhibition opens Friday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. The RSVP-required opening night concludes at 8:00 p.m.

Regular hours of operation for the gallery are between 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. By appointment, the gallery is open seven days a week.

The Paradigm Gallery is located at 746 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 on the building’s first floor.

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