Rex Southwick’s Paintings Reveal the ‘Invisible Labor’ Building Our Most Desirable Homes


“At the heart of my work are considerations of property, domestic spaces and the environment,” begins Rex Southwick. “These three subjects tend to be intertwined in my paintings, which, although appearing on the surface as mere depictions of expensive homes, actually attempt to highlight the disparity that exists between these spaces and the workers who build them. .” In Rex’s work in progress, titled Querencia, we’re shown the heavy manual labor and long hours it takes to build the kinds of homes that fill our social streams and our dreams. The modernist mansions with immaculately landscaped gardens and large swimming pools that many of us yearn to occupy are shown half done and half built – a maze of wires, cables and building materials that give the spaces a decidedly empty.

And yet, as the title of the series attests, these are the parameters towards which we gravitate. “Querencia is a Spanish phrase that basically means a space where you feel most comfortable and where you draw energy from,” says Rex. “For example, in bullfighting a bull will often circle the arena until it finds a place where it feels safe and strong – that is its querencia.Likewise, humans seek out specific environments that revitalize them and give them a sense of belonging. Often, they not only seek out these environments, but also build them, creating homes that reflect their aspirations and desires. In a digital age where minimalism reigns and social media pushes us towards certain realities, these desires take the form of modern and bright dwellings located in earthy settings and warm climates.


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