The Fourth Wall


Juan Carlos Quintana

Devil's Paradise

May 13 – July 1

Artist Reception & Talk: Saturday June 3, 2-5pm

The Fourth Wall is pleased to present new works by Juan Carlos Quintana created during his 2022 residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans.

These works primarily deal with my own reckoning with Louisiana’s sugar plantation system and the petrochemical industry in the southeastern region of Louisiana between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I chose to concentrate on this topic because of my personal connection. I was born in St. James Parish (Lutcher) and spent the first five years of my life on the grounds of a sugar cane refinery in a house that has historical implications to the development of Louisiana‘s sugar industry, Godchaux House in Reserve, Louisiana.

In creating these works, I wanted to ask the question: how did a Cuban immigrant family escaping communism in the early 1960’s end up living, not only in the heart of Louisiana sugar cane region, but in a dilapidated plantation house built in the 1700’s? I began to investigate the history of the house and learned that during the period after the Civil War, it became one of the biggest sugar producing plantations in the country. How did my personal history interconnect to a larger historical context, and how can I make sense of it all through the narratives of my paintings, both real and abstract.? I used this personal connection to history to delve deeper into the social and cultural history of the region and to learn how the repercussions of that history are still being felt to this day in our political and cultural battlegrounds. I am critical of how Louisiana has, for the most part, promoted its plantation homes to tourists by “sugar-coating” the American atrocities of slavery and, instead, glorifying the plantation owners’ “heritage” and way of life by romanticizing it’s Antebellum period.

By using vintage tourist brochures, pamphlets, plantation guides, antebellum campy romance novel book covers, Louisiana government sponsored advertisements for companies investing in chemical plants, and random found images, I created paintings that attempt to connect the historical dots and question our collective connection to history. (Juan Carlos Quintana, 2023)

Juan Carlos Quintana is a Louisiana born artist based in Oakland, CA. Born in (1964) Lutcher, LA, his family immigrated from Cuba a few months after the U.S. backed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. He spent his early childhood living in a dilapidated plantation house used to house refinery workers on the grounds of the Godchaux-Henderson Sugar Cane refinery in Reserve, LA. The home, known as the Godchaux Plantation house, was the center of the sugar cane industry in the 19th and early 20th Century.

Quintana has exhibited in many venues both nationally and internationally including solo exhibitions at the Freies Museum in Berlin, the Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales in Havana, Cuba, Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, and John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco. He is a 2016 recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant and has been awarded artist residencies at the Djerassi Resident Program in Woodside, CA, EDELO in Chiapas, Mexico, and the Joan Mitchell Center Residency program in New Orleans. His work is in the permanent collection of the Crocker Art Museum and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Infused with an anti-colonial sensibility, Quintana’s art work often delves into nonsensical fluid narratives. Both whimsical and gritty, his works oscillate between current events, speculative time periods, ideological conundrums, and lost idealism.