States Of Being

Faith Need Not Fear Reason

Oct 29 – Dec 05, 2015
Press Kit

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Press Release


Faith Need Not Fear Reason

October 29 – December 5, 2015

Opening reception for the exhibition: Thursday, October 29th, from 6 – 8 PM at 524 West 24th Street.

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce Carlos Vega’s solo exhibition at the 24th Street gallery, Faith Need Not Fear Reason, which celebrates a unique moment in history when Christianity, Judaism, and Islam briefly coexisted peacefully. The gallery will exhibit this dynamic body of work for the first time in New York, which includes works from Vega’s recent solo exhibition at the Orlando Museum of Art earlier this year.

During a brief but fertile period in 12th century Spain, philosophers freely conducted their studies in the pursuit of enlightenment, unbound by religious dogma or laws of state. Vega’s inspirations for the works in this exhibition are three leaders that contributed to this unique moment in time: Averroes, an Islamic polymath, Maimonides, a Jewish scholar, and King Alfonso X “The Wise.” Each advocated for sophisticated scientific methods and cosmopolitan learning, expanding on the newly discovered works of Aristotle, and encouraging all to believe that faith need not fear reason. Vega urges us to contemplate the teachings of these three intellectuals as we continue to struggle with diversity in a modern world of intolerance.

Averroes (2015), a large-scale wall relief fabricated from sheets of lead, is a memorial to the named philosopher who was driven out of Spain by a fundamentalist invasion and eventually died in Morocco. Nearly all of his works have been destroyed, with the tragedy described in 1198 by Muhyi al-Din Ibn Arabi as a "doleful procession, a coffin bearing Averroes's remains secured against one flank of a donkey with a bundle of his manuscripts lashed to the other side as a counterweight." Vega has etched the shape of the donkey into the metal and carved away the background to reveal a second layer of imagery depicting pale hills in the distance, a lamentation over the tremendous loss of Averroes and his writings.

The Maimonides Wall (2015) is a free-standing wall inspired by the “Maimonidean Controversy,” the web of criticism and debate surrounding the writings of the iconoclastic Jewish scholar. Vega presents a dual-sided mural of painting and collage which expresses the disjointed past of Andalusia and Judaism on one side, and its current relevance looking forward on the other.
In Alphonso in Exile (2015), Vega depicts the wise king hovering in calm effervescence in contrast to the turbulent, geometric collage of images adjacent. Alphonso X was religiously tolerant and legislated respect for all houses of worship. His kingdom was torn apart by contradictory beliefs during the uneasy struggle to transform Spain, and some historians speculate that Alphonso the Wise sank into insanity later in life.

Carlos Vega studied at the University of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain, the University of Fine Arts in Madrid, and the Talleres de Arte Actual in Madrid before continuing his studies at The Art Institute of Chicago. Vega currently lives and works in New York.

Concurrently on view is Vibha Galhotra’s ABSUR -CITY -PITY -DITY at 513 West 20th Street and Winter in America, a group exhibition at The School in Kinderhook, NY. Upcoming exhibitions at the gallery include Toyin Ojih Odutola at our 20th Street location and Odili Donald Odita at our 24th Street space, opening Friday, December 11th. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at