Installation view of Yoab Vera: Reminiscence — Contigo Aprendí (July 10-August 22, 2024) at Alexander Berggruen, NY. Photo Daniel Greer

Yoab Vera: Reminiscence — Contigo Aprendí

July 10-August 22, 2024

Let the sea horizon be a reminder
of the boundless nature of hope
and the deep gratitude we hold
for the interconnectedness of all life.
— Buddhadharma

Alexander Berggruen is pleased to present Yoab Vera: Reminiscence — Contigo Aprendí. This exhibition will open Wednesday, July 10, 2024 with a 5-7 pm reception at the gallery (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3, New York, NY).

Yoab Vera employs the motif of a sea horizon as a guiding structural event for contemplation. The origin of this modular seascape is geometrically abstract, and the artist approaches representation of a sunrise or sunset over water through intuitive mark-making. Using oil-stick, oil, and concrete, Vera integrates architecture, spirituality, and neuroaesthetics in what he terms “haptic contemplative painting.” Vera distills the complexity of passing time into the simple truth of the rise and fall of the sun, mindfully exploring reality through the present moment, the psychological components of memory, and the changing conditions of light. 

Recalling Piet Mondrian’s late series New York City (1941-42), and Blinky Palermo’s To the People of New York City (1976), Vera dedicates Reminiscence — Contigo Aprendí (I learned with you) to New York, as a gesture of gratitude to the city that was once Vera’s vicarious mentor and the place where he first embarked on his ongoing journey as a painter. Titling each work as an homage to art that has added perspective to his life, his paintings capture knowledge gained through contemplative experience where memories of the natural world materialize. 

Trained as an architect in Mexico City before studying painting, Vera hybridizes materials from the everyday urban environment, combining oil-stick and concrete in his fresco-like technique. His use of colors and construction of space echo Mexican architect Luis Barragán’s buildings—one of which, Casa Gilardi, held a solo show of Vera’s paintings earlier this year. 

Yoab Vera Reminiscence: Lines of Sight (to Carmen Herrera), 2024 oil, oil-stick, and concrete on canvas, framed 39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm.) framed: 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm.)

Yoab Vera
Reminiscence: Lines of Sight (to Carmen Herrera), 2024
oil, oil-stick, and concrete on canvas, framed
39 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (100 x 80 cm.)
framed: 40 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.3 cm.)

Beginning each painting in his outdoor studio with meditative awareness, Vera welcomes how natural conditions affect himself and his work, encouraging an acceptance of all manifestations of the day. Endlessly, in each of Vera’s paintings we stand in front of concrete memories, of sunrises and sunsets. These sea scenes’ initial, momentaneous, awe-inspiring qualities inspire pausing to contemplate anew.

Vera works mindfully with intuitive gestures in response to concrete’s rapid solidification. Preferring his glove-covered hands instead of a paintbrush, he applies paint and concrete by moving horizontally, side to side, involving his body in the repetitive, almost dance-like movement. The pacing of his paintings—in their creation, their internal textures, and their collective presentation—is inspired by music with repeating patterns, with a meditative almost hypnotic tempo, such as music by composers Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, or John Adams. As an ensemble, Vera’s seascapes are identified by a particular interrelationship, rigorously consistent in formal composition, yet varying from each other in their chromatic dispositions, contemplative tonalities, and harmonious light. 

Tactility and an organic feel arise from Vera’s materials. The rugged irregular yet rhythmic texture in the bands of sea and sky mimics the choppiness of an ever-moving ocean and a wind always in flux. From his application of pigmented concrete to canvas emerges a buoyancy in color and form, paradoxically taking a heavy material, concrete, and making it light.

Yoab Vera Semana Serenata: Dance by the Sea (to Sol LeWitt), 2024 oil, oil-stick, and concrete on canvas, framed overall: 7 7/8 x 68 7/8 in. (20 x 175 cm.) each: 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (20 x 25 cm.)

Yoab Vera
Semana Serenata: Dance by the Sea (to Sol LeWitt), 2024
oil, oil-stick, and concrete on canvas, framed
overall: 7 7/8 x 68 7/8 in. (20 x 175 cm.)
each: 7 7/8 x 9 7/8 in. (20 x 25 cm.)

His impastoed surfaces generate a push and pull between the densely painted surface and depth of gazing at the implied vast ocean. Reminiscing about the profundity of everyday moments in the mundane serenity of Milton Avery’s seascapes or the meditative stillness of Agnes Martin’s repetitive horizontal lines, Vera suggests pausing on retrospective thresholds. The geometric base of his modular seascapes dissolves as a vanishing point by establishing the directionality of the painting in relation to what cannot be seen and must be projected. Sometimes the horizon does not converge, as in Recuerditos Cotidianos: See the Sea (to Milton Avery), and it becomes the place of transition to cease to be and become the end, or start, of a journey. 

Vera instills in a viewer a search for the circular sun. Similar to the horizon line, sometimes, the sun is clearly depicted, and at other times, it may be obscured within hazy clouds or veiled completely, as if it is too early or too late, or it is affected by the weather. At other times, a boat passes through. Vera’s sea horizons, without geographic anchors or specific cartographies, portray the passage of time and the transit of light. 

The dual formalization between seascape and nature is based on emotional vibrations translated into color and patterns that escape its grids, as outlined by Agnes Martin in her geometric and spiritual contemplations. Vera defines space with a minimal composition—the horizon line along the sea. He begins each work with a stripe at the same lower third register of the canvas, suggesting the horizon’s limitless continuity. This is best exemplified in his polyptych Semana Serenata: Dance by the Sea (to Sol LeWitt), a collection of seven canvases attributed to the seven days of the week, eponymously. Here, each painting features a perpetual glow emanating from the boundary of where the sea meets the air that the eye can trace from one canvas to the next. Vera painted each work in this series in a single day over the course of a week. Comparing this to a weeklong meditation retreat, his dedication to this repetition reveals the backbone rhythm of daily life, a mnemonic device to keep perspective. Enriched by radical acceptance, Vera distills the complexity of life into a haptic rhythmic aesthetic.

Press release by Kirsten Cave.

Yoab Vera in the studio, Mexico City, MX, 2024.

Yoab Vera in the studio, Mexico City, MX, 2024.

About the Artist

Yoab Vera (b. Mexico City, 1985) received an MFA from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where he also studied meditation practices at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He graduated with a BA in Studio Art and Art History with a concentration in Latin American Art from Hunter College, New York, NY, and studied Architecture in Mexico City at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). His work has been exhibited at Casa Gilardi, Mexico City, MX; El Castillete, Madrid, ES; Andrea Festa, Rome, IT; Make Room, Los Angeles, CA; Saenger Galería, Mexico City, MX; CFHILL, Stockholm; and GAVLAK Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; among others. Vera has held residencies at Duplex AIR, Lisbon, PT; El Castillete, Madrid, ES; Roman Road, Berlin, DE; and Fresco and Vernacular Architecture Painting School, Oaxaca City, MX. He was awarded the New York Community Trust Award in Painting and Poetry and has also received awards from the Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. The artist lives and works between Mexico City and Istanbul. This is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery.

Yoab Vera: Reminiscence — Contigo Aprendí will run at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from July 10-August 22, 2024. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery at

Yoab Vera Reminiscence: Summerspace (to Merce Cunningham, Molton Feldman & Robert Rauschenberg), 2024 oil, oil-stick, and concrete on canvas, framed 31 1/2 x 39 3/8 in. (80 x 100 cm.) framed: 32 x 40 in. (81.3 x 101.6 cm.)

Using the horizon line over a sea as a compositional starting point, Yoab Vera creates scenes that are at once representative but use the language of abstraction. Described by the artist as “haptic contemplative painting,” Vera taps elements of architecture, spirituality, and neuroaesthetics (a scientific, neurological approach to the consideration of aesthetics) to explore facets of reality, both real and perceived.

Using oil sticks, oil paints, and concrete, each work has an added sense of tactility and immediacy, allowing Vera to further allude to the multifaceted themes and formal investigations he pursues throughout the body of work on view.

Tying the show further to his ongoing practice, the name of the show Reminiscence – Contigo Aprendi (translated: I learned with you) is a dedication to New York, where the artist first began his painting practice, and an homage to artists such as Piet Mondrian and Blinky Palermo who similarly dedicated work to the Big Apple.

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