I only found you when I stopped looking
Denisse Griselda Reyes at Real Art Ways

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I only found you when I stopped looking
Denisse Griselda Reyes

Real Art Ways presents a solo exhibition by interdisciplinary artist Denisse Griselda Reyes. 

I only found you when I stopped looking, Reyes’s first solo show in Connecticut, features short films, familial ephemera, and a new body of paintings that humorously explore themes of self-formation, reparative representation, and archival preservation. I only found you when I stopped looking serves as a thoughtful response to Reyes’s previous show, Did you have a hard time finding me? at A.I.R. Gallery. The titles draw inspiration from Yuri Herrera’s book, Signs Preceding the End of the World.

In a continuing artistic dialogue, the shift from a question to a statement suggests a journey of discovery and unexpected revelations between the two exhibitions. Reyes presents a “maximalist constellation of memory” by juxtaposing family archive materials with paintings and multimedia projections in an installation space reminiscent of, but not identical to, their family’s domestic interiors. Central to the exhibition is a short film that intertwines the border crossings of Reyes’s grandmother Anita during the Salvadoran Civil War and the queer dating life of Reyes’s alter-ego, Griselda. Griselda, a part-narrator, part-drag-persona, and part-survival-strategy, allows Reyes to challenge the expectations placed on queer Latinx artists while acknowledging the complexities of self-formation. The exhibition includes new paintings that recreate family photographs, a vitrine of childhood teeth parodying museal presentation, screens alternating between home videos and simulated archival footage, and blue-green walls evoking Reyes’s family’s past spaces in El Salvador. Through these elements, Reyes transforms preservation into mythmaking, inviting guests to reflect on their own notions of selfhood.

Connor Spencer

Writer/Researcher/PhD Candidate at Colombia University


About the Artist


Denisse Griselda Reyes (they/them, b. 1993) is an interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker, utilizing autobiographical narratives as source material to create contemporary fictions. Through layered temporalities and representations of the self within archives, objects, and performances, they construct a mythology of Salvadoran and personal history. Balanced between tragedy and pleasure, Reyes employs humor and their alter-ego, Griselda, to navigate the grief and absurdity inherent in recreating transhistorical subjects. Their work seeks to negotiate an agreement with the present moment rather than with a distant future, exploring how close one can get to recreating reality before losing touch with it. Their work has been exhibited at White Columns, A.I.R. Gallery, NoBudge Films, Film Diary NYC, The Wallach Art Gallery, Lenfest Center for the Arts, Artforum, Velvetpark Media, MODA Critical Review and internationally. Their films have premiered in Berlin and New York, and they have been nominated for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant and awarded the “Hot Film in the Making” Roy W. Dean Film Grant. They received an MFA in Visual Arts (New Genres) from Columbia University and a BA in Art History from Wesleyan University. They currently live and work in Brooklyn, NY.