Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Mother Figure

Manuel Pardo's lifetime devotion to a single subject

Mother’s Day is still a Sunday away but a recent visit to Manuel Pardo’s joyful exhibit at a Chelsea gallery makes one think about the influence mothers have on their children. Manuel Pardo, who died last November at age 60, devoted most of his artistic career to honoring his roots, in particular his mother Gladys. In l962, at age 10, Pardo was airlifted with his sister from Havana to Miami during Operation Peter Pan, a collaboration between the U.S. government and the Catholic Church that heartbreakingly separated children from their parents. Pardo struggled in foster homes until reunited with his mother four years later. Recalling their reunion, he said: "God arrived, in the form of a woman with a very long braid." (His mother, had refused to cut her hair until she rejoined her family.) 

In Pardo's 30-plus year career, in hundreds of paintings and drawings, he consistently depicted his mother as “self-possessed, cat-eyed, stylish” in fancy clothes and lavish interiors--luxuries she could never afford in America.  On Thursday, May 2,  friends and patrons, art-lovers and gallery-goers will come together to celebrate Pardo's life--and his life's work--at an opening reception and unofficial memorial at the Highline LoftThe reoccurrence of the female figure allowed Pardo to revisit and refurbish the life he left behind as a child. Said one reviewer: “Like the soothing repetition of a chant or a prayer, his work tries to will an alternate reality into existence." 
Three from Pardo's Single Color series 


1 comment:

  1. What a great subject gearing up for Mother's Day. (You make me want to pull out my favorite art books and linger!)