3 - 23 August 2021
In 2018, Rafael Trelles exhibited a set of exquisitely hand-drawn works, depicting mysterious, magico-mythical realms, as part of October Gallery’s Portal show. His latest solo exhibition, entitled Axis Mundi, presents a newly completed series of mixed media paintings that develop similar themes in novel and unexpected ways. The exhibition’s title refers to that central ‘world tree’ around which the universe supposedly revolves. This notion, common to many ancient cultures in Africa, the Americas and Europe, situates a giant tree at the centre of some ageless, sacred wood. One example, from the Norse sagas, tells of the great ash tree, Yggdrasil, which from its topmost branches to its deepest roots connects nine different realms, passing from the heavens to earth before plunging down into the underworld below. Trelles’ haunting paintings present themes linking the enchanted forests of his native Puerto Rico with these widespread beliefs that see forests as sites of refuge and transformation in a natural world increasingly challenged by crises of species extinction and climate change.