HomeExhibitions2020 ExhibitionsINTERIOR MOTIVE



NOVEMBER 4, 2020


WRITTEN BY Carlomar Arcangel Daoana


Vanity Fair

If the home and architectural magazines are to be believed, the domestic space is the manifestation of its owners. Each object that occupies it—whether it may be a Persian carpet or a grandfather’s clock—makes visible their hidden yearnings, desires, and compulsions, their subscription to certain ideas of wealth and success, designed and presented in a way that is meant to seduce (if not to inspire envy from) any visitor that steps inside such a hallowed place. This language of opulence is direct, powerful, and immediately recognizable, imbibed by the inhabitants as their own lingua franca.

In her solo exhibition, Interior Motive, Tiffany Lafuente asserts that the correlation between space and self is artificial, if not illusory. Mansions may be inhabited by monsters. The excessive focus on wealth may erode the essential, the substantial. Opulent spaces are proposed not as an aspiration but an aberration.

At first look, the accoutrements of affluence are striking and identifiable: pieces of art, plush sofas, Art Deco lamp, a recessed shelf full of books. But beneath this veneer of luxury lies something sinister and illicit. Upon closer inspection, doors are seemingly out of place, walls are garishly painted, stairs lead to nowhere. It is the inhabitants, however, that give this suite of works its whiff of the absurd.

Thoroughly absorbed with their extravagant comfort, these men and women, seemingly lacking in self-awareness, become creatures of oddity, whose world begins and ends in the interiors that the paintings depict. From men strutting with full-on metallic masks, to a ghostly shuffle of hands indicating professions of importance, to a bald man snatching a toupee in a hurry, the figures have become more mechanical than human.

In “The Shining,” a man in a suit holds a piece of wood ready to strike an intruder in a fit of paranoia. He is shown waiting by his own likeness in a painting. It may be that the person he has long been waiting to cause harm on is himself. In another painting, a sexual tension creeps between an old woman—draped in a nude, almost diaphanous dress—and a young man with a sad slouch, seemingly having swallowed “the missing sculpture” alluded to in the title: a theft that, try as he might, he cannot hide.

The “interior motives” of these figures then are suspect, if not superfluous. The spaces they occupy, luxurious though they may be, are not clear reflective surfaces but funhouse mirrors, warping and distorting the image they have of themselves. Conspicuous consumption, or the garish display of wealth, doesn’t necessarily affirm the abounding richness of an inner life. What is seen on the surface, as this exhibition powerfully conveys, is merely the thin skin that hides a persistent corruption and decay.