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June 18, 2022 - July 9, 2022

Through the lens of Julio José Austria's myriad of complex ideas, the range of emotions and recollections reveal a universal story of migration and labor challenges. "RetroDecade" is a timely exposition that demonstrates the possibility of bringing diversity into conceptual and diasporic discourses while also challenging differences between multiple worldviews. It confronts the artist’s cross-cultural experiences and difficulty establishing identity in the constant shift between domains.

Austria's body of work primes his canvases with meaning, struggles, and sentiments – which appear as an intimate, unfinished conversation between his assemblages of experiences from living in the United States of America over the years. His physical distance from home – far from his native home –has broadened his world, as expressed in his art. His works take inspiration from his early consciousness of migration which drives memory and provides a visual portrayal of meaning and observation from his varied surroundings. The exhibition offers diverse artistic responses from the artist’s accounts to poetic meditations; it explores the personal and observed narratives surrounding the difficulties of pursuing art, the immigration process, asylum, assimilation, and the perception of being “other” within the American culture.

Walking through the works on display lives through the artist in search of a haven, carrying his ideas and talents with him, which transcend cultural barriers, strengthen understanding, and stimulate greater compassion in the diaspora's thriving art scene. His distinct method of creating these collections of works reflects his complexities and struggles driven by the pursuit of artistic freedom and grace behind chaos –silent yet explosive. Intentionally overwhelming his canvas with an array of mediums and concepts, Austria finds solace in the process of narrowing down and removing unnecessary attributes to reveal and come up with a clear message and composition that is essential to his work.

An installation that supplements Austria's paintings directly converges on the audience at the gallery's entrance, using the iconic balikbayan boxes as a valuable material to symbolize the Philippine diaspora and wooden pallets and scrap materials from his recent workplace. The familiar material served as a subtle reminder of home in an atmosphere that felt almost disconnected and unfamiliar in its global prestige – fragile and fading. The artist also cites a specific piece titled "Investing the Alien" as the catalyst for this artistic journey, reminding him of his hopeful depictions of success and profession striving to navigate "the dream."

Julio Jose Austria

Julio José Austria is a Filipino-American visual artist residing in New York City. His works mainly focused on migration and urbanization which provides a visual portrayal of his profound life experiences and narratives based on his observations and absorption of the environment he is in.

Austria earned his Bachelor’s degree in Painting at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. He has received various international fellowships such as the 2009 Asian Artist Full Fellowship Award at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont; a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant for the Ox-Bow School for the Arts in Saugatuck, Michigan in 2010; and the Ruth Katzman Scholarship Award by the Vytlacil Campus of the Arts Student League of New York.

He was a studio artist in Chashama Space to Create Program and a mentee in New York Foundation for the Arts Immigrant Artist Program. His works have been exhibited as well in Bangkok, Singapore, Berlin, London, and Vienna.

“RetroDecade” is a collection of experiences and issues that resonated with him the most in the decade that he resided in New York. It tackles how migration, labor, diversity, pandemic, history, and culture correlates with Austria’s life.

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