A Nashville Perspective Series



Jorge Yances: Seeing Nashville with New Eyes

By DeeGee Lester

Embedded in the artistic genius of Jorge Yances is his ability to awaken audiences to the world around them and to the deeper meanings of familiar places. His new collection entices viewers to transcend multiple layers of reality and to see Nashville with new eyes

Not content with traditional artistic representations of the city’s landmarks and iconic buildings, Yances, the maestro of Realismo Mágico, awakens and releases the phantom spirits who created the rhythms and ideas which define our city. The old brick walls lining Broadway and interspersed with modern structures along Nashville’s numbered avenues, the warehouses seen from the bridges, and the heavy metal rear doors nestled along narrow back allies, find expression when unleashed by his brush. These buildings live, crossing the enchanting line that separates the brick and mortar and neon from the true soul of the city.

Museum-goers and art-crawlers familiar with Yances powerful use of magical realism in paintings of centuries-old structures from his native Cartagena, Colombia, will simultaneously recognize his style and experience something entirely new with the presentation of this latest collection. 

Like something being born, the central images of one canvas literally burst through another canvas. “It was a solution to the problem of a crowded canvas, an idea that came to me in a dream,” Yances says. “I now have an idea of what (Argentine artist) Lucio Fontana felt like when he was slashing his canvases – to experience the feeling of freedom of canvas!”

This explosive moment enables Yances to break out of the normal presentation of walls and doors and to present them as living things with the distinct echoes and histories and personal stories bombarding us. He sees the world the rest of us miss until he brings it to us from the textures and surfaces that speak to him. As Parthenon curator Susan Shockley reflected, “The visual effect of one canvas emerging from another is that of the painting exploding out of some antiseptic environment.”

 The white surface of the recessed canvas becomes a continuation of the central piece, as in the painting, Art for Sale. The simplicity of the outside is invaded by colors that bleed out and the extension of the wire, pipes, paint drops, and sidewalk shadows drifting over from this autobiographical compilation of Yances’ own experiences and memories of the Nashville of the turbulent ‘60s. This, and other pieces in the collection, opens the eyes of viewers to the realNashville. As Yances works his magic, gallery visitors will never encounter these buildings or see their city in the same way again. This is the true power of art.