Jonathan Alfaro’s work interrogates a wide range of concepts and ideas through a practice that can be considered indicative of an experimental material practice. The concepts Alfaro explores lead him to the medium best suited to express his thoughts. This approach centres expansive exploration of methods and materials allowing for a natural evolution in the development of work.

Functioning in tandem with a practice of material exploration, Alfaro's interests in research, critical theory and literature allow him to investigate intersecting sources. Rooted in: reading, listening, sharing, narrative and conversing widely these investigations are fundamental to the way Alfaro forms his ideas. Considering his practice parallel to writing; Alfaro treats his work as a portal to explore, interrogate, and often reformulate a vast array of subjects. This approach demands that each choice of visual symbol, substrate, and medium within his practice is carefully considered to ensure cohesion and effective communication of concepts he explores. This methodology of thought often leads Alfaro to re-examine his ongoing and completed work with a revisionist lens. Reflective assessment through narrative research plays an integral role in shaping how Alfaro challenges his work to situate it within the context of his practice and the larger world. Unbeknownst to viewers, Alfaro ensures his practice is grounded in the full scope of his research.

Alfaro is tethered to textiles, stemming from a familial relationship to weaving woollen yarn which exists as a citation to the work produced in similar materials. His relationship to the material informs the creation of objects that are comforting and strange. Within an ongoing body of work exploring textiles, Alfaro brings together colour, volume and movement to produce bodily relationships in the space occupied by the sculptures. Woollen yarn in a saturated red encompass the viewers gaze; the bright colour demands space. Sculptural volumes covered in 12-inch lengths of yarn are hand-tied to chicken wire structures. The resulting surface is evocative of imagined creatures grown from 1970’s shag carpeting. Alfaro activates these sculptures through the use of Arduino, circuitry and coding to program movement. Embedded time-of-flight laser sensors detect a viewers distance which activate upon approach, they come to life as they vibrate and walk—at times verging on collapsing. This intersection of materials and movement evoke feelings of the uncanny. These sculptures when activated are akin to the essence of curious creatures expressing personalities. By the use of different movements these sculptures break into the space of the viewer to build individual relationships.   

Alfaro’s growing body of work that explores visual cues of written language that achieve a sense of harmony between the painted object and the flat picture plane. He turns away from stretched canvases which stray too far from the physicality of writing on paper. Instead, Alfaro uses flat aluminium panels mounted as close to the wall as possible to better signify our understanding of written communication. Colours and values are specifically chosen to confuse and direct the viewer through the mark-making. A series of marks are created over the surfaces in direct lines akin to cursive handwriting and indirectly through planes of colours creating narrow voids. Constant reworking of drawings and paintings produce a multilayered surface which function as an analogy to the memory of reading and writing.

The explorations of written communication—like the sculptures—use the evocation of memory as the outset to the viewers experience. The artworks allow the viewer space to explore how specific objects and shapes can evoke memories of comfort and warmth. This production of memory is an important product which itself becomes an act of self preservation.