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A careful balance of contrasts

Leslie Moody Castro (1/2024)

Leslie Moody Castro reviews Kristi Kongi's solo exhibition "The Past, the Present, the Future, It is Like Indigo, Lilac, and Magenta".


In her second solo exhibition at Karen Huber Gallery in Mexico City (the first took place in 2018), Kristi Kongi uses the light and the blueness of the Mexico City sky as the starting place for her palette. In "The Past, the Present, the Future, It is like Indigo, Lilac, and Magenta", the gallery is an explosion of colour on one side and a quiet, subdued, calming white in the other.

We see glimpses of colour while walking up the stairs of the gallery. A green, peach and peppermint wall unfolds on the right side; the one next to it is a combination of bubble-gum pink, navy blue, baby blue and ochre. Each wall is anchored by paintings that vibrate colour, visually popping off the wall while at once also being absorbed into it. But the way in which the gallery begins to unfold beyond these two walls is the visual magic of colour that only Kristi Kongi is capable of.

Canvases with long, descriptive titles live at seemingly random intervals of height and space on walls that pulse with colour, pulling the eye through different points of the room, begging for a rest, and reset in large uninterrupted swatches of pink, blue and yellow. The gallery is full of surprises as rigid lines diffuse to soft arcing lines that divide one colour from the next, as hues of different colours wrap around corners and edges.

It is the paintings, however, where Kongi truly allows her hand to shine. Combinations of light and colour simultaneously bleed into the colours of the wall and jump off of it. It's a trick of the eye that Kongi plays expertly, and her control of both colour and the paint on her brush is something truly remarkable.

Indeed, there is a balance to the work – and to the show. Texts in English and Estonian describe a setting, a mood, or the light conditions on that day, and underneath, small vignettes of colour in patterns that bleed from one hue and into another draw the viewer into their quietness.

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