Having known Gabriel’s work for several years through our Bow Arts Trust connections, I was really keen to write something for his solo show at the New Court Gallery, following the Needle’s Eye exhibition which I curated there in January 2013. Gabriel’s painting practice is slow and dogged, everything invested into individual paintings, worked on one at a time. Therefore I wanted to avoid generalising about his practice as a whole, and instead focussed on his motives, and his imagined worlds that are described in the paintings. The whole text follows here:
‘Internal worlds emerge from the depths of Tejada’s imagination, creatures and objects faithfully rendered in brushwork that builds their very substance onto the canvas. Internal references take the helm as well, as very little is given away as to the context of Tejada’s work in the framework he presents – of dreamlike unfocussed drawings and scant explanatory text. The intention here is to communicate sensory imagery: visceral rotting fruits and lurching creatures, ungainly tent structures with overflowing tableaus of superfluous objects.
These worlds are peopled with amorphous organic structures with heads and limbs: ambiguity is in form rather than technique. However, Tejada’s preference for earthy hues and tenuous descriptive markmaking differentiates these creatures from those idealised bodies in Western Art’s history of painting. His experience of the world is coloured by the fertile, mountainous landscape of Peru – of a culture that raises image-making on a different sort of pedestal – influenced by both the ancient indigenous history and colonialisation that led to the creation of a School of Arts in Lima. Combined with an intuitive sense for the tactile quality of both his technique and the materiality he is depicting, these paintings and drawings become otherworldly, not in an exotic way, more dreamlike: imagined, and primal.’