May 12 – October 9, 2022
The Fire of Heaven: Enrique Martínez Celaya and Robinson Jeffers presents the work of Los Angeles based artist Enrique Martínez Celaya in conversation with the work of twentieth century poet Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962). Spanning two decades of the artist’s career, this exhibition demonstrates the impact and longevity of Jeffers influence on Martínez Celaya’s practice. In 2021, Enrique Martínez Celaya completed an inaugural Fellowship at the poet’s landmark home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Tor House and Hawk Tower. The Fire of Heaven includes paintings and works on paper created during and in response to his stay.
Despite existing in different lifetimes, Jeffers’ approach to life as art and his reverence for the natural beauty of the Carmel – Big Sur coast, inextricably link the two creatives. Beyond these threads of commonality, Martínez Celaya draws from specific Jeffers’ writings, such as the 1928 poem, “The Summit Redwood,” which serves as the exhibition’s namesake and describes “the fire from heaven” as a force untamed and ignited at whim. This fervor and flame ebbs in and out of Martínez Celaya’s work, which includes twenty-eight original drawings, paintings, and one sculpture. The display is anchored by Jeffers’ handwritten poems, notes, and photographs, on loan from Occidental College. Grounded in the power of place and a shared pursuit for truth, this exhibition invites audiences to siphon the limitations of comparison and engage with of the elemental truths of art and existence.
Preceding The Fire of Heaven, Martínez Celaya has enjoyed a significant run of showings and solo exhibitions in Southern California including SEA SKY LAND: towards a map of everything at the USC Fischer Museum of Art, The Rose Garden at the UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills, a monumental installation at the Huntington Library Art, Museum, and Botanical Gardens, and an abbreviated version of The Fire of Heaven at USC’s Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library.
About the Artist
Enrique Martínez Celaya is an artist, writer, and former scientist. Born in Cuba and raised in Spain and Puerto Rico, the California based artist now works and resides in Los Angeles. His exilic life and connection to the sea is inextricably linked to his art and a lifelong quest to crystallize and master the allusivity of life’s meaning. Regardless of theory or medium, he is a philosopher in endless search for knowledge and answers. Through religion, physics, literature, and art he has studied the interconnectivity of all things, acknowledging that no single approach on its own could suffice. Enrique Martínez Celaya has established himself as a rare talent of esteemed poise. His body of work is enchanting, bold, and poetically infinite. With a portfolio that easily stands on its own, Martínez Celaya supplements his art with numerous volumes of writing and literary prose.
Martínez Celaya is collected and exhibited by institutions around the world including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Museum der Bilden Künste, Leipzig, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. He is a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, the first person to hold the position of Provost Professor of Humanities and Arts at the University of Southern California, and the first fellow of the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation. Martínez Celaya has also written and published several books and papers in art, poetry, philosophy, and physics. In 2022, he opened four consecutive exhibitions in the greater Los Angeles area, leading to features in the Los Angeles Times and The Art Newspaper.
About Robinson Jeffers and Tor House
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) is a giant among American poets and a local legend on the Monterey Peninsula. Jeffers built his home and refuge, Tor House, in Carmel-by-the-Sea for his wife Una. From 1919, he lived, worked, and raised his family there. Jeffers’ wrote nearly all his major poetical works from Tor House including Carmel Point and Boats in Fog, which seamlessly speak of the region’s unique identity and lure. With its English Tudor style and prominent Hawk Tower, Tor House remains a fixture along the scenic Carmel coast. The Tor House Foundation, affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a nonprofit organization that continues to preserve the site and literary legacy of Robinson Jeffers through sponsored events and published materials. The house is open to the public through organized tours. To learn more, please visit: https://www.torhouse.org/.
Thank you to our sponsors, Richard Carr and Barbara Schilling, for helping make this exhibition possible.
Image: Enrique Martínez Celaya, The Citadel (For R.J.), 2020, oil and wax on canvas, 78 x 61 in. Courtesy of Frederic Snitzer Gallery and Private Collection, Miami + Aspen.