Almost Solid Light: New Work from Mexico
Paul Kasmin Gallery presents a summer showcase of contemporary Mexican artists, celebrating the long history of cultural cross-pollination between neighboring nations. The exhibition brings together artists practicing in diverse media who are living and working in Mexico and further afield; several of whom have never before exhibited in the USA.
Taking its title from an Óscar Oliva poem, the exhibition explores the region’s focused formal expressions and the significance of often humble, repurposed materials – concrete and wood – that recur in work throughout the revolution era and into postmodernism and contemporary aesthetics.
Though these materials have their practical origins in construction and workmanship, their unexpected assemblages constitute a radical and poetic investigation into the polarities of weight and light; a meditation on solidity as compared to transparency. The works repeatedly touch on the themes of memory, dream and narrative. They propose that it is possible to gain knowledge of - to bring into reaching distance - these grand and ethereal abstractions by giving them context and form in the base materiality of the world.
Artists participating include: Adrián S. Bará, Pablo Davila, Cynthia Gutiérrez, Circe Irasema, Valentina Jager, Mario Navarro, Jerónimo Reyes Retana, Gabriel Rico, Javier Rodríguez, Claudia Peña Salinas, Tezontle, Fabiola Torres-Alzaga, and Alvaro Ugarte.
Amongst the artists investigating the potential of material to give foundation to metaphysical investigation is Alvaro Ugarte, whose flagstone sculptures visualize the trajectory of dreams as relayed to him by agricultural workers from his native country. Pablo Davila’s The Past was Real is an apparently abstract configuration of wall-hung brass tubes that considers the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica, a machine designed to detect gravitational waves from the birth of the universe. By visualizing one of the measurements of this event, the work queries the ability to know our past with any certainty. Javier Rodríguez’ Havre 27 is an attempt to move closer to the idea of the “language of things,” an object that is activated by video and speaks through light and memory. For Cynthia Gutiérrez, a flag is “a declaration, a symbolic construction that, through form and color, communicates and expresses a specific message.” Her work Abismo flotante proposes such an object that “does not represent a consolidated identity, but a fragmented identity, dissolved, lost between ashes and dust.”
Just as the work in the exhibition grounds ephemeral notions of dream, memory and identity in solid material, it also deconstructs the physical compositions of the world around us. Mario Navarro’s Future Islands draws attention to the architectural space of the gallery whilst inspecting one of the most basic offerings within the etiquette of hospitality: the chair. Jerónimo Reyes Retana proposes a series of models that reimagine Mexico City’s monuments in abstraction using concrete, glass, and copper; the Mexico-City based duo Tezontle combine historical references in works that lie between found object and sculpture, archeology and invention; and Adrián S. Bará, who is known for an art practice that combines his education and exercise as a filmmaker with his interest for visual narratives, presents a painting in New York for the first time.
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