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Surreal Suspensions: Johan Galue

Curated by Elisa Carollo

Eery and visionary, the surreal universe of Venezuelan artist Johan Galue (Maracaibo, 1987) invites our eyes into a journey between spatial and temporal dimensions, where elements of both personal and collective memories, inner and exterior spaces freely float, revive, and recombine for sudden epiphanies of meaning, brimming with new emotional depth.

Mimicking the language of dreams, the art of Galue seems to aspire to some wholeness, engaging what Jung refers to as a dialogue between the ego and the self, between the inside and the outside world, between bodily sensations, and the psychic translation of those into memories. These seemingly chaotic and random symbolic associations become for the artist a tool to gain access to new revelations regarding our perception of reality, and the subconscious elaboration of it.

Eventually, the powerful layering of symbols and metaphors in these canvases seems to mimic similar processes of sublimation, displacement, and accumulation that we find in our dream-making process: incoherent characters and figures flow strangely through the imaginative space of Galue’s canvas twisting, weaving, discombobulating the narrative about the endless circle of life, between birth, death, rebirth, and some sort of paradise, nirvana or hell, and back again.

“I am unafraid, and I have unwavering faith in what I do, as what I create as an artist essentially represents my perpetual vision.” - he affirms.

Although the uncannily cryptic narratives of many of his works may make them appear the result of a troubled personality and psyche, all of Galue’s works just bear the power to freely dig into, and let emerge the depths of the unconscious. At the same time, they still preserve a connection with the audience through the imaginative playfulness and engaging stories woven into his compositions.

As suggested by some of the titles, there’s, an undeniable existentialist essence imbued in the artist’s works, turning these scenes into powerful metaphors of sociological and psychological situations in which the self has to confront the “other”.

The subconscious ciphering converts in this way the latent content, a series of psychic experiences, into the manifested content of images as acceptable representations of residual consciousness, and the viewer. However, the artists preserve the access to the final meaning and reading as suspended, preferring a more fragmented narration: the repressed re-emerge and reveals itself in a free flow of energy from the psyche, overcoming all the socio-psychological constrictions, but always refusing any direct linguistic codification.

It might be for this reason that the bodies portrayed in his work often appear fragmented, with heads lying or fluctuating alone in these surreal landscapes, already detached from the physical body and reality of senses and desires that influence them in the terrestrial and material experience. The space itself represented by Galue is also primarily mental: his scenes are located at the same time inside and out of the psyche, in a metaphysical space where all the scientific rules we used too far to explain reality, get suspended.

The presence of shadows also encourages a deeper immersion and exploration inside the abysses of the psyche and imagination, resulting in seemingly chaotic and random symbolic associations that attempt to provide us with access to new revelations regarding our perception and subconscious.

Nevertheless, the art of Galue is not to be interpreted as an escape and complete rejection of reality, but rather an elaboration of the traces of private and collective events in the subconscious.

Born, raised, and living and working in Venezuela, Galue had the opportunity to see how absurd can turn human reality, just with some bad political decisions affecting the ordinary order of everyone's life.

At times Galue’s work might result scary, appearing illogical or incoherent, but as dreams and nightmares, they never deceive, distort, or disguise through symbols: they just reveal how our conscious state and narration is only the tip of the iceberg of some deeper interpretation and experience of reality.

In this sense, the art of Galue embodies the dynamic essence of reality, meaning the possible realization of it, between physical sensations and psyche, in a continuous process of resignification where the meaning is never final and given once and for all, but can be constantly reactivated through our creative minds power, and visualized with art art.


Johan Galue lives and works in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He was born in 1987 in Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela, Galue graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a specialization in drawing from the University of Zulia Maracaibo in 2008. Since then the artist has been featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions including the New Surrealism Exhibition in the Museum of Art Acarigua-Araure – Acarigua, Venezuela (2018), Inner Realities Exhibition in Bellas Artes Theater and Art Center – Maracaibo, Venezuela (2017), Dream-Like-Universes Exhibition in Zelaya Art- Miami, Florida (2017) and Hechos Clandestinos Exhibition in Art Center Lia Bermudez, Maracaibo, Venezuela (2018), among many others. Galue has been awarded First Place in the Biennale Art Exhibit in Churuguara, Falcon State, Venezuela, and has received distinction awards of Honorable Mention by First Salon Santa Frida and First National Salon of Visual Arts.