Selected works by Guerra de la Paz

Guerra de la Paz


Mixed media sculptural installation.

365.8 x 213.3 x 213.3 cm

Cuban born American artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz are the collabortive duo Guerra de la Paz . Originally sourcing their materials from the waste bins of second-hand goods shipping companies in Miami’s Little Haiti, Guerra De La Paz make their sculptures from the discarded items of daily life. Viewing their practice as a kind of ‘archaeology’, their work engages with the history inherent in common debris and its possibility for recycled usage. In Nine, a giant mound of clothing heaps with strata of prom dresses, Christmas jumpers, and embarrassing yesteryear fads, bearing down with the weight of a civilisation and its disowned memories. Beneath the fringes of the hulking mass can be seen the feet of nine people supporting the load, a testimony to the strength and value of community.


Guerra de la Paz Power Ties

November 2012, Julian Navarro Projects, Press Release

Julian Navarro proudly presents Power Ties a solo exhibition by Guerra de la Paz.

“POWER TIES is an exploration into the effectiveness of both symbolism and satire as methods of communicating the unmentionable, with the objective to create a visual language that depicts scenes where the ethics and morals of the influential are narrated by irony and righteousness.

Guided by historic relevance and society’s structure of power, the work depicts the height of civilization and the cause of its decline in a dialogue of rudimentary ideals conceptually embellished with a passementerie of controversy.

Assertive yet gentile in its delivery, POWER TIES provides comedic relief to a subject that delves into the darkest depths of the preeminent topics of the status quo and engages the viewer with humorous portrayals of a treacherous, high stakes game where underhanded deception is splendiferously rewarded.

Personified by empty shells of clothing that appear to be void of human control and stylized to identify with the affluent and authoritative image of success, POWER TIES offers settings that illustrate the physically nonexistent nature of a ubiquitous dominion and its consequential stronghold on society in a story line characterized by neckties that represent unscrupulous misdeeds and the sacrifices one makes for personal gain”… Guerra de la Paz.

Guerra de la Paz is the composite name that represents the creative team efforts of Cuban born artists, Alain Guerra (Born: 1968 Havana, Cuba) and Neraldo de la Paz (Born: 1955 Matanzas, Cuba. Live and work in Miami, Florida) and have been consistently producing collaboratively since 1996.

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Praxis International Art Miami- Guerra de la Paz

Feb 2012, by Elisa Turner, ARTnews

With Eerie timing, this powerful and disturbing exhibition by the Cuban American artist duo Guerra de la Paz (Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz) titled “Barbed”, recalled the encampments of the Occupy movement that began appearing last fall.
The central installation- Unidentified (2011) - carved out and imposing ten-foot-square space in the middle of the gallery, bounded by a chain-link fence with coils of barbed wire and razor wire on the top. Inside the fenced-off area, densely packed garments suggested a crush of humanity.
Clothing in shades of bright red with clumps of purple mixed in- a grisly palette reminiscent of fresh and dried blood- dominated the base of the cube, while softer shade of ivory and pink constituted the upper layers. Ribbons of red cloth streamed though opening near the bottom of the fence, pooling on the floor.
Viewed from a distance, the coloured cube resembled political or demographic maps; it also brought into mind prison camps and other heavily guarded spaces.
In three photographs from the ongoing ‘Barbed’ series, for which Guerra de la Paz document clothing caught in the barbed wire of industrial fencing, the artists showed an uncanny knack for exploiting figurative associations.


Clothes - Minded: Barbed

by Eduardo Alexander Rabel, Artslant

The artist duo Guerra de la Paz is comprised of Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, both Cuban-born, U.S.-educated, and Miami-based. While their joint moniker is, on the one hand, simply a combination of their last names, it also has a deeper resonance, since it literally translates as "War of Peace." As befits such a name, the two are unafraid to tackle big, serious themes, and they do so with dignity and panache.

The centerpiece of Guerra de la Paz's current exhibition is a monumental cubic installation entitled Unidentified. Measuring 10' x 10' x 10', the cube is defined on its four vertical sides by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and razor wire. The space within the fence is tightly packed with found clothing that elegantly symbolizes the oppressed multitudes. The colors of the garments have been strategically chosen and placed so as to obtain an impressive painterly effect. With a limited palette of beiges, pinks, browns, grays, and reds, the clothes suggest human flesh, complete with veins and arteries. The bright red clothes in particular play an important role as they bulge through the fence and bleed violently down to the gallery floor on all four sides.

The barbed wire seen in industrial/art districts—such as Wynwood in Miami or Chelsea in New York—is typically used to keep trespassers out of a space. However in this case the barbed wire is keeping the clothes – and the metaphoric people they represent – encaged within, as in a prison, or a death camp.

Knowing that the artists are both from Cuba (and being of Cuban heritage myself) I cannot help but read this piece as a metaphor for the island of Cuba, and the way that the Castro regime has long denied the Cuban people freedom of movement. However, the artists have not included any specific markers of geography or cultural context, which allows the work to be read formally and poetically, as a portrayal of universal experiences of oppression—wherever, whenever, and however it exists. It may bring to mind the Nazi Holocaust, or the genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. Closer to home, it may recall the U.S. prison at Guantánamo, or the electrified fence that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has "joked" about installing along the U.S./México border.

Complementing the central installation are several beautifully evocative photographic prints, each of which depicts an item of clothing hanging forlornly from barbed wire on a chain-link fence. The clothing in these images signifies the suffering of the individual, as opposed to the suffering of the masses in Unidentified. The photographs are especially striking in that they are printed on a new medium—archival acrylic glass with an aluminum backing—that gives them a crisp and very appropriate metal-on-metal look. In addition, they have been selected and hung so that vast expanses of the gallery walls are left unadorned, adding to the sense of desolation.

Kudos to Guerra de la Paz for this tight and hauntingly powerful exhibition.

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Colourful Histories

By Renne Yearwood, Issue 27, Sublime Magazine

Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz are the creative duo that are Guerra de la Paz. The Cuban-born artists live and work in Miami, and have been producing work together since 1996. They use second-hand clothing and found materials to create beautiful installations which are not only visually stimulating, but provide an interesting commentary on sociopolitical issues. In today’s consumer-driven society, their use of discarded clothing in the creation of their installations speaks volumes on many levels, and forces viewers to a critical examination of their own personal practices. Sublime interviewed the duo about their work, their inspiration and the statements they make with their pieces.
Sublime: As a collective, how does the creative process work for you both?
Guerra de la Paz: Much of what we do is about trial and error, which has allowed us to learn a great deal about understanding how to reinforce each other’s work harmoniously. There is a high level of intimacy in how we work, and it’s usually just the two of us in our studio, striving for common goals.
After 16 years of continuously bouncing ideas back and forth, and developing certain methods together, creation for us has become an organic practice that revolves around constant dialogue and shared experiences.

S: What inspires you both?
GdlP: It can come from anywhere. Because the majority of our materials are found, we would say that whatever we come across in our scavenger hunts is a great source of inspiration.
We also look to nature and its cyclical patterns; life’s dichotomies; psychosocial issues; scientific theories and the history of different cultures for guidance.

S: Are you fans of other contemporary artists?
GdlP: Yes, of course. There are too many great artists to single out anyone in particular, and the list is ever growing and changing. To name just a few would be to do a disservice to those we didn’t mention.

S: How are the textiles sourced for installations such as Six Thai Trannies in
Heaven and Tribute?
GdlP: For Six Thai Trannies, we were invited to a special two-week residency at the Elsewhere Artist Collaborative in Greensboro, North Carolina and asked to create to create a site-specific installation with materials found on the premises. The garments in were part of a site materials collection at the 100-year-old, three-storey building that once housed various businesses and was owned by one woman
throughout her life. One of its incarnations was a thrift shop, which is where the clothing comes from.
Garments from the 1940s through to the 1980s were sorted by weight and hung accordingly in order to alleviate stress on the rafters, that were hidden by an original tin ceiling, where the installation would reside. Tribute’s evolution, on the other hand, is a stark contrast, in that it is made entirely of cast-offs that it has taken over ten years to collect, and to sort the clothing to correlate with the colours of the spectrum. The individual items were gathered from piles of discarded garments waiting to be taken away in dumpsters for landfill.
We began collecting garments for the piece around 2000, and by 2002 we had enough to debut its first installation. From there, we have continued to collect and sort, and add to the piece whenever it is reinstalled.

S: Why do you use textiles?
GdlP: The clothing idea came about when we moved into our studio in the Little Haiti neighbourhood of Miami, which was then packed with Pepe businesses (exporters of second-hand clothes to Haiti). They would throw away endless amounts of all kinds of apparel on a daily basis.
We were initially attracted to these large quantities of clothing as they offered an abundant array of colour, sheen and texture to choose from. Once we gained access to several Pepe warehouses where we collect our materials, we quickly learned to appreciate the plasticity of the repurposed medium and to use it in a variety of ways, from individual brushstrokes in three-dimensional paintings to straightforward symbolism.

S: Why do you use second-hand materials? What does this add to your work?
GdlP: The use of second-hand items poses existential questions, and comes charged with issues of provenance and historical significance, acting as contemporary archaeological relics. Using them as a constructive material incorporates their intrinsic value, and the encapsulated energy absorbed from their earlier role as functional items, adding a metaphysical dimension to the work. Each item has contributed to defining an individual, and suggests time and place, while collectively they represent humanity and allude to an entire population.

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The Piles Of Stories Hidden In The Clothes

By Textile Forum Magazine, Issue 1, 2011(pgs 30 + 31)

The artist duo Guerra de la Paz works in Miami ‘in step with the times’, using second-hand clothing as a medium for art. The two artists, Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, were born in Cuba in 1968 and 1955 respectively, but they have lived in the USA for a long time and have been working together in art since 1996- in Miami, close to Little Haiti. In Miami, ‘pepe’ exports of old clothes to Haiti have been flourishing in trade since the 1960’s. Guerra de la Paz were overwhelmed by their experience of excessive amounts of discarded clothing waiting for export in the shipping companies’ large bins. In 2002, the New York Times reported that in the USA, some 2.5 billion pounds of clothing end up in charity collections of old clothes each year, and that more than 80% of this is shipped globally.
These days, the waste destined for export not only includes worn clothing but also the ‘remains’ of global overproduction: unsold new clothes, no longer ,marketable for fashion reasons and discarded by major fashion companies and department stores. Guerra de la Paz pick through this waste to find the materials for their sculptures and installations. In ‘NINE’, nine people (of whom only their clothed lower legs and feet are visible) carry a huge pile of heaped clothes; the dome of colourful clothing in highly diverse designs appears to be heavy? crushing? weight. At the same time, the piece makes reference to people acting together- the group is also reminiscent of children creating a hiding-place from blankets.
In Tribute (2002), the colourful chaos has been brought under control; we see a pile of clothing arranged into a rainbow of colour, refined and cheerful.
The elegant colour scheme of the installation was not produced by dyeing , but is a result of sorting and assembly like a painting. The second life of these items, discarded from the ‘otherworld’, attains a productive existence in art that will endure, a s Guerra de la Paz sell their sculptures at this stage of completion (NINE, was purchased by the English collector, Charles Saatchi).
Critical statements on consumerism and society combine harmoniously in the pieces of work of Guerra de la Paz; the very material makes reference to the dimensions of ecologically unsound squander and newly produced waste, and also points to the individual life stories of previous wearers.
In intention, Guerra de la Paz are closely related to Christian Boltanski, who creates his pieces to provide food for thought. “Life is politics..Good work is work that makes people think”

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A New Mythology Cuban duo Guerra de la Paz turns trash into a funky otherworld.

By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
January 22, 2009

Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz are not the type to gingerly test the depths of mythology. Instead the Miami-based
pair has plunged headfirst into the unknown, seeking to fathom the common lore that binds humanity in an Ariadne's
thread across the globe.

At the Carol Jazzar Gallery in El Portal, the conceptual duo has conjured a realm of enchantment by creating iconic
imagery of fantastic creatures lost to time, yet which appeared very much alive to the bygone civilizations that
venerated them.

Their richly symbolic exhibit "Otherworld" offers an imaginative portal through the ages. It deploys found objects and
garments to evoke mystical beings that have transcended space and time.

The Cuban artists, who have collaborated under the name Guerra de la Paz since 1996, share a studio in Little Haiti,
where they have plumbed the neighborhood's streets and shops for the discarded materials that make up their art.

To create the eye-popping mermaids, unicorns, witches, warlocks, and angels in their show, they play the role of
backyard archaeologists, dumpster-diving and rifling through piles of clothing at local shops that work in the rag trade
shipping used garments in bulk to Haiti.

"These businesses toss out furs, sequined items, and stuff like prom gowns in the dumpster," de la Paz explains.

Adds Guerra: "What we collect from these places, thrift shops, and friends and family is the driving force behind our

The pair has become known for creating sprawling installations evoking whimsical landscapes. "A lot of these places
would toss the clothing they had no use for in the trash," de la Paz says. "The weather would change the garments,
giving the metallic thread and sequins of some fabrics a glistening sheen. It was all destined to become part of a
landfill, and we thought it would be great to create these surreal landscapes out of them."

At Jazzar's space - a retrofitted garage located behind the French dealer's home, in a lush tropical setting reminiscent
of the duo's earlier installations - it's evident the artists' work continues to evolve.

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Source: Miami New Times

guerra de la paz, the green zone, Daneyal Mahmood Gallery

By Tatiana Flores

Art Nexus, Issue 69, June 2008

To describe the installation The Green Zone by Guerra de la Paz (recently exhibited at the Daneyal Mahmood Gallery) as multi-layered would be both a bad pun and an understatement of its extraordinary complexity. Guerra de la Paz is the combined name of Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, a duo of Cuban - American artists who are currently based in Miami. They have risen to prominence with their powerful and thought-provoking oeuvre, which includes sculptures, installations,
and two-dimensional mixed-media work.

The Green Zone is an all-encompassing environment in two parts. The first is a forest made of recycled clothing: the trunks and leaves consist of shirts, pants, socks, jackets, and other garments held together by intricate knots. The trees span from floor to ceiling and are illuminated with green lights that create an atmosphere heightened by air blowing
from fans and mysterious sounds that evoke both the rhythms of breath and subtle cries of pain. The installation's second part is revealed as the visitor turns a corner. Visible beyond the trees is the representation of a crucified G.I., lit with a red spotlight. Formed by layers of army camouflage, this eerie figure with disproportionately long arms and legs provides a poetic but chilling reminder of the consequences of war.

The title of the installation refers to the U.S.-occupied territory in central Baghdad that the military forces call home. It is an oasis of American life within what may be the most dangerous city on earth. By creating the installation�s two spaces, the sheltered forest and the emptiness populated only by the martyred figure, the artists evoke the illusion of safety only to dismantle it. The forest is a desert mirage, and reality lies beyond. The crucifixion scene invokes the "truth," but it is one with no promise of redemption.

Reading The Green Zone merely as an antiwar protest would be failing to grasp the deep complexity of the artists' process. Guerra de la Paz takes the medium of sculpture in unprecedented directions; most astoundingly, the duo renders it pictorial through their adaptation of the ready-made. A brief foray into the history of twentieth-century art will allow for a greater
appreciation of their achievements.

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Source: artnexus

A 'Space' That's Filled by History's Shadow

By Jessica Dawson
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, March 27, 2009

I disagree - firmly, vehemently - with "Space, Unlimited." Not with the show's presentation (two smartly installed floors at the Art Museum of the Americas), or with its seven youngish artists (most born in the 1960s), or even with its witty, often complex artworks.
It's the title I resist. Curators Tatiana Flores and Laura Roulet say that the exhibition gathers artists who create "space," a term Roulet defines as "architectural dimensions, natural environment, personal habitat, or the parameters of one's interior world."
Given these 18-lane-wide constraints, though, could any artwork not belong in "Space, Unlimited"? Such a throwaway concept undersells what this exhibition accomplishes, vividly. "Space, Unlimited" shows us just how terrifying it is to be an artist right now.
In nearly all the show's pieces - and there is one self-assured exception - we sense a waking terror at the long shadow of art history. With so many Titians and Mondrians behind us, how to carve the road forward? Beat them or join them?
To these questions, the "Space, Unlimited" artists offer smart, often humorous answers. Some poke fun at art history, others join it.
Head upstairs to the museum's second floor for the exhibition's standout: a glorious extravagance of an installation called "Spring Sprang Sprung." (The piece alone justifies a visit.) A massive tree-shaped sculpture by artist-duo Guerra de la Paz (Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, both Cuban-born and now living in Miami), the work stands in a gallery adjacent to a series of canvases by Havana-born painter Lilian Garcia-Roig, now a Tallahassee resident.
The artists work out similar, if inverse, issues: Guerra de la Paz renders landscape as painterly sculpture, and Garcia-Roig produces sculptural landscape painting. Both riff on the breakdown of a painting/sculpture divide that began 100 years ago, with Picasso (or even earlier, with Courbet and Manet).

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For creative duo Guerra de la Paz, art and life are inextricably tied together.
By Anne Tschida

The trees and plants in this Little Haiti warehouse are verdant and alive. The various hues of green springing from the earth-dark and rich pine, light lime-are sprinkled with soft reds and yellows from the flowers' petals. It's a magical scene reminiscent of the moment when Dorothy falls from a black-and-white Kansas into a Technicolor Oz-artificial yet absolutely full of life.
Oasis is a room-sized installation from the duo Guerra de la Paz, whose nom de guerre, as it were, is taken from the two Cuban-born artists who comprise it, Alain Guerra and Neralda de la Paz.
Guerra attended the Art Institute of Chicago, while de la Paz received his BFA in drawing and painting from Northern Illinois University. After briefly meeting in Chicago and then again down here, the two decided on Miami as a base. At first, they lived and worked in this warehouse-studio-without too much hassle, according to de la Paz, except that the outdoor hose doubled as the shower-until the art and the clothing took over the space and they moved themselves into a one-bedroom apartment.
Oasis is just one of their remarkable pieces that thematically link the sculpted and the organic and are made from discarded clothing. The crafted plants and people are tied and twisted and sewn from materials that the thrift shops won't take and that even the impoverished nation of Haiti doesn't want, says Guerra: beaded sweaters, '80s lam� velvet numbers, ripped tutus,
T-shirts, leopard prints, jumpsuits, and underwear.
After the two have scrounged up a haul, they take it back to their studio and start shaping pieces such as Surreal Estate, with its tree branches made from sleeves, socks, and hoodies, while the rocks at the base are sewn or pinned into balls. "It's a plot of Eden," says Guerra-a humorous take on the history of real estate development in Florida. Nearby is another work-also a grouping of trees, this time individually colored to reflect the year's cycle-called 4 Seasons. The foliage on the approximately five-foot tree, representing autumn, is made from orange- and rust-colored garments, while the trunk is intricately wound and tied from brown cloth. Winter is crafted from whitish materials; spring from pink; summer from green. These are dense pieces, extremely time- and labor-intensive, and always distinct from each other. In fact, explains Guerra, sitting in the hothouse atmosphere of the studio, the pieces might even "grow" over time, as the duo adds to it for a new show. (Conversely, they pieces can also be trimmed.)

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Discarded clothing blooms anew as tropical paradise

by Margaret Hawkins

Ever wonder what to do with that closet full of clothes that don't fit or that you're just tired of? You could do what most of us do and just pitch it all and buy new, or if you're public-spirited you could take it to Goodwill. But if you're the artist team of Guerra de la Paz, you'll sort it into color-coordinated piles, along with the castoffs of all your friends, family and neighbors, and make it into art.
Guerra de la Paz's latest creation, "Oasis," is a room-sized, site-specific installation now at the Chicago Cultural Center that creates a utopian fantasy of tropical paradise out of heaps of unwanted clothing.
Picture a floor-to-ceiling tree made from hundreds, maybe thousands of old brown suede jackets, corduroy pants, sweaters, T- shirts, animal-print polyester blouses, bathing suits and hosiery, neckties and belts as vines. Picture a room full of green sweater sleeves sprouting up like foliage that sometimes blooms into flowers made of ruffled baby socks. Picture a sea of blue skirts, boulders made of balled-up, metallic-thread sweaters, set it all in a room where the walls and ceiling are painted in tropical blues and greens, add a soothing birdsong soundtrack -- and you have an idea of what these artists are up to.
Formed in 1996, Guerra de la Paz is the composite name that represents the collaborative creative efforts of Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz, two Cuban-born artists working together in a shared studio in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood. Their current medium is old clothes, but they've worked with found objects all along; they're interested in what can be learned about popular culture from what's left over, left behind and thrown away. Their work combines influences from sculpture, collage, street art and fashion, but they've devised a form all their own.
Discarded clothing is an ingenious medium for artists interested in color. Found fabric is malleable and exists in a complete palette that is almost as versatile as paint, from bright to faded hues, from primary colors to neutrals. Used in mass, the individual garments become brushstrokes in a three-dimensional representational painting. We see the clothes and we see the landscape. Part of the fun of the work is the imperfection of the illusion. And discarded clothing is free.

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