From An­drés Hoyos, art bear­ing its own stamp of au­then­tic­ity

The Washington Post Sunday - - THIS WEEK - BY CELIA WREN style@wash­post.com Wren is a free­lance writer.

Colom­bian-born artist An­drés Hoyos makes no bones about it: His work sends an en­vi­ron­men­tal mes­sage. Re­ly­ing al­most ex­clu­sively on re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, Hoyos cre­ates pieces that he says are meant to bring view­ers “into a real con­ver­sa­tion about how im­por­tant it is to have some re­spect for the planet.”

“Def­i­ni­tion of Color,” an ex­hi­bi­tion of Hoyos’s works, is on dis­play at the res­i­dence of the am­bas­sador of Colom­bia, with se­lec­tions from the artist’s “Fly­ing Chairs” se­ries, which in­cludes im­ages of chairs and ac­tual chairs cov­ered with Hoyos’s sig­na­ture work­ing ma­te­rial: re­cy­cled postage stamps. The ex­hibit also fea­tures pieces such as “Into the For­est,” a wooded land­scape cre­ated with stamps.

Ex­plain­ing his phi­lat­e­list ten­den­cies, Hoyos says used stamps have a cer­tain mys­tique be­cause each one has a history. More­over, he says, “I love to see how a tiny stamp, put to­gether with another, and then another, changes from be­ing an in­di­vid­ual de­sign into a color, a tex­ture, a new pat­tern.”

Hoyos, who was born and raised in Palmira, Colom­bia, stud­ied art in Barcelona, where the abun­dance of sea glass on the beaches proved an in­spi­ra­tion. He moved to the United States in 1999, set­tling in the New York bor­ough of Brook­lyn, where he’s also a real es­tate bro­ker.

Cre­at­ing art with used stamps might seem a tall or­der in this day and age, when so many com­mu­ni­ca­tions travel dig­i­tally. Hoyos says he was lucky, early on, to have a friend whose mother worked at a se­nior cen­ter and took to col­lect­ing — and pass­ing on to Hoyos — the stamps on letters re­ceived by the cen­ter’s el­derly clients, who were per­haps more snail-mail-friendly. Since then, a num­ber of Hoyos’s other friends have fun­neled their used postage his way.

Hoyos says he has oc­ca­sion­ally pur­chased 2-cent stamps that were es­sen­tial for a par­tic­u­lar color scheme but in short sup­ply in his hand-me-down postage stocks. But mostly, he sticks with the sal­vaged-ma­te­ri­als ap­proach. En­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity, he says, “is re­ally im­por­tant for me.”

Delv­ing into clouds at Fringe

A street com­mits sui­cide. A heart paints the sky with a tooth­brush. A man­goes fish­ing with the aid of a pel­i­can. Such dream­like im­ages float up from the di­a­logue of “Our Lady of the Clouds,” a play by Ecuador-based drama­tist Arístides Var­gas that is en­joy­ing a run at the Cap­i­tal Fringe Fes­ti­val. The episodic work imag­ines con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Bruna and Os­car, two ex­iles from a po­lit­i­cally trou- bled na­tion named Our Lady of the Clouds. The talk be­tween the duo some­times evokes a sur­real or ab­sur­dist re­al­ity; some­times it morphs into reen­acted his­tor­i­cal episodes that may be fic­tional.

The play’s enig­matic riffs on ex­ile made sense to Ste­vie Zim­mer­man, a Bri­tish-born di­rec­tor who lives in the Washington area. “I’ve lived in the States 22 years, but I still feel like I’m not quite at home,” she says.

Zim­mer­man stum­bled across the script while hunt­ing for a play she could di­rect in con­junc­tion with the 2014 Win­ter­green Per­form­ing Arts fes­ti­val, which had a South Amer­i­can theme. She con­sid­ered stag­ing Ariel Dorf­man’s “Death and the Maiden” but con­cluded that it would be too heavy for asum­mer­time arts cel­e­bra­tion in the Blue Ridge Moun­tains.

An online search even­tu­ally turned up “Our Lady of the Clouds” (“Nues­tra Señora de las Nubes”), which ap­pears to draw obliquely on Var­gas’s own ex­pe­ri­ence as a na­tive Ar­gen­tine who runs an in­flu­en­tial theater com­pany, Grupo de Teatro Malayerba, in Quito, Ecuador. Puerto Rico-based trans­la­tor An­drew Hur­ley had ren­dered the script into English.

Zim­mer­man says she was struck by the play’s mys­te­ri­ous­ness and res­o­nance. “There’s a lot of it that’s not log­i­cal,” she says. At the same time, “there are themes that re­cur in such a sub­tle but con­sis­tent way.” The si­lenc­ing of speech is one such theme; be­trayal is another.

Af­ter wrap­ping up the 2014 Win­ter­green pro­duc­tion, Zim­mer­man says, she and her two D.C-based ac­tors— Ed­ward C. Nagel and Liz Dut­ton— felt there­was more to ex­plore in the text. A sec­ond pro­duc­tion seemed in or­der, and Cap­i­tal Fringe beck­oned.

Def­i­ni­tion of Color At the res­i­dence of the am­bas­sador of Colom­bia, 1520 20th St. NW. Open to the public Aug. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Aug. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. View­able by ap­point­ment by e-mail­ing mrueda@colom­bi­aemb.org. Visit www.colom­bi­aemb.org.

Our Lady of the Clouds July 17, 19 and 25 at the At­las Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (Lab II), 1333 H St. NE. Call 866-811-4111 or visit www.cap­i­tal­fringe.org.

PHOTOS COUR­TESY OF AN­DRÉS HOYOS

ABOVE: An­drés Hoyos’s “Fly­ing Chair” is on view at the res­i­dence of the am­bas­sador of Colom­bia in­Wash­ing­ton.

RIGHT: Hoyos’s “Into the For­est.”

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