A Many-Splendored Self-Portrait of the Artist

For “Stab of Guilt,” the first, sprawling survey show of René Treviño’s 24-year practice at the Wellin Museum of Art in Clinton, N.Y., among his other work, the artist has installed 119 paintings, each 18 inches by 18 inches. These are disparate images, some historical, some contemporary, all variations on the circle: heraldry, Aztec symbols, currency, images of the sun and of star patterns, a manhole cover, a disco ball.

This collection hints at how fluidly this Dallas-born, Baltimore-based, Mexican queer artist regards the aesthetic world: He isn’t concerned with rigid hierarchies of being. What he is concerned about is connecting the disparate and layered parts of himself that exist beyond fthe traditional markers of identity.

Treviño — who has been exhibited at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut and White Box in New York City — is unique in that he doesn’t treat identity as a series of boxes to check, or a set of ramparts to guard, but instead, as a range of paths to explore.

Treviño’s “Circumference” series, 2019-23, acrylic painting on DuraLar.Credit…John Bentham/Wellin Museum of Art
A close-up of No. 85 from the “Circumference” series.Credit…René Treviño

Another group of paintings, the “Celestial Body-ody-ody” series (2020-23) — named after a song by the popular hip-hop musician Megan Thee Stallion — contains images of coral arranged like brain matter adjacent to images of the Earth seen from space. These works, which measure 36 by 36 inches, are a motley combination of the art historical, Mexican cultural history and the everyday curiosities of pedestrian American culture.

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