Gabriel Orozco “Visible Labor”

Rat Hole Gallery

poster for  Gabriel Orozco “Visible Labor”

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Rat Hole Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Gabriel Orozco on view from November 20 until March 20, 2016. The exhibition follows a major survey of Orozco’s work presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo earlier this year. On view in the exhibition is an installation of works made by the artist on-site in the gallery.

Born in Mexico but dividing his time in various cities around the globe including Mexico City, New York, Paris, and Tokyo since the beginning of 2015, Gabriel Orozco’s diverse practice spans drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, and installation. He often uses found materials or situations to explore the ephemerality of our everyday experience and serendipity therewithin, making the quotidian visible in engaging, unexpected, and often times humorous ways. Orozco’s work also deals with philosophical and physical paradoxes through chance encounters and spatial relationships.

In addition, his interest in games, mapping, and complex geometry is evident in many works such as Ping Pond Table (1998) in which the artist transforms the classic sport by opening up the central net into a square pond of water lilies, or Horses Running Endlessly (1995) where a regular chess set is transformed into a landscape of four teams of knights moving along freely in a four-color wooden chessboard. Other examples include La DS (1993) whereby Orozco cuts a Citroen DS in three parts and joins the lateral two, transforming the car into new slimmer unity, and the Samurai Tree series where he plays with the geometry of a circle and its four axes in compositions of unpredictable growth that act as a bridge between geometry and organic matter development in which the sequencing of four colors- red, blue, gold, and white- is based on the principles of movement of the knight or horse in a chess game.

Unfolding in the exhibition at Rat Hole Gallery is the artist’s exploration with wooden beams and columns as leftovers of joinery, an art characteristic of traditional Japanese carpentry. Such joinery techniques are distinguished by their unique interlocking systems, in which the material of wood is connected through elaborated and self-sustaining joints called tsugite (straight joints) and shiguchi (angle joints). Hardware such as nails or bolts are rendered unnecessary; instead, skillful labor and complex thought-processes enable the seemingly simple function of joining two pieces of wood.

For the exhibition, Orozco has created an installation of sculptural works with tsugite and shiguchi joints, transforming discarded fragments of wood from demolished houses and temples into bodies of unity through a repeated process of display, cuts, deconstruction and reconstruction. This process makes visible to the eye the elaborated complexity of attachments normally unseen, and recalls analogies with the relations and spaces in our everyday life. Juxtapositions of the horizontal and vertical, positive and negative, matter and void, and male and female joints are elements that are brought together and made evident in the sculptural and spatial compositions that expand possibilities of proportion, form, and physical material. Orozco also employs a systematic use of the color white on the extremities of the wood fragments, referencing an ancient tradition of white painted on the end surfaces of timber in temples to protect the material from weathering and decay, as well as relating to the idea of visibility and emphasizing the shapes of labor, both formally and conceptually.

Dispersed and sometimes almost hidden within the installation are small Buddha figures with varied gestures of the hand and body, as if apparitions of movement, occupying the void between the sculptures. Also embodying the possibility of re-joining, they symbolize a connection between the human scale, nature, and the cosmos, as entities that join our being with reality and time. The linkage of Buddhist iconography with Orozco’s placement of red miniature Ferrari models and round, black and white Go stones throughout the installation adds another layer of transformation and complexity in meaning, composition, color, and form, as well as humor to the artist’s exploration of joinery. Found within the aesthetic landscape that also has the appearance of a territorial grid of a board game, is the idea of the unfinished, like a match in duration to be continued or played again with constant movement and possibilities for new configurations of elements.

While touching upon notions of national identity, craftsmanship, technology, sports and religion, Orozco’s new body of work explores hidden geometries and principles of movement- ideas recurring throughout the artist’s practice- revealing a possible narrative of labor in the construction of spaces, games, and relationships.



from November 20, 2015 to March 20, 2016


Gabriel Orozco



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