Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gabriel Orozco 15 Septembre 2010- 3 Janvier 2011 Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd.

Gabriel Orozco 15 Septembre 2010- 3 Janvier 2011 Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd.


A former colleague of mine, a Mexican American painter and sculptor took me to see work of artist Gabriel Orozco for my first time back in 2003 at a solo exhibition he had with his New York gallery Marian Goodman on east 57th Street. For some perspective, Marian Goodman is that same gallery that will host the New York solo exhibition of a painter like German born Gerhardt Richter after he has had a retrospective at the MoMA a few blocks south of the gallery on west 53rd street. At the time when my colleague and I went to the exhibition I was confused, by the name of Orozco, I was expecting to see murals and Paintings from the 1930's onward, half remembering the compatriot and fellow muralist painter of Diego Rivera, Orozco yes José Clemente. Gabriel Orozco is of no relation to José Clemente Orozco. Some people have mistakenly assumed, like I once did, that his father a Mexican muralist who worked under David Sisqueros, was related to Diego Rivera or José Clemente Orozco because of his name, Mario Orozco Rivera.  After I got past the confusion of names back in 2003, I saw the art in a large white cube space above the hustle and bustle of central midtown Manhattan. There were several bone like structures suspended from fishing line from the ceiling, the work was large and ambitions installation that looked strangely amphibian and had nothing ostensibly to do with neither, Mexico, politics nor painting.


Two years later in Venice Italy is was provided with the second opportunity to see Gabriel Orozco's work, included in part of the curated group exhibition section of the Venice Biennial. What I saw then was a series of abstract paintings that looked like Venn Diagrams in primary colors and selected metallic like silver leaf and gold leaf. By 2005 I had flipped through enough magazines dedicated to covering current art to know that when the occasion would arise to frequent a museum, or gallery exhibition, with the name Gabriel Orozco included, I could expect to see a cast of minimal Nation-less internationalist art, artwork found expressed in small gestures in big white cubes that reproduced well photographically in the image laden magazines about minimalist internationalist nation-less artwork.


It is five years since I saw Gabriel Orozco's paintings in an institutional show, and the dimly lit street level south gallery of the Pompidou reads as a melding between serious museum retrospective, and solo gallery exhibition. In the exhibition literature we are informed that the decision to have the exhibition hall of Sud left open like the Neue National Gallerie of Berlin by Mies van der Rohe, was a decision the artist arrived at. Is Orozco an exacting kind of artist who may possess a need to control or augment the environs where his art is shown? There is nothing wrong with exactitude and artistic preferences, but why stress about how the exhibition is arranged in the museum, is that not purvey of museum personnel? Would it not behoove an artist to make more of a substantial looking art, one where placement and exhibition design is not tantamount or central to understanding or appreciation of the artwork?


Seeing a selection of Gabriel Orozco's work from the 1990's onwards one is given the feeling of entering a brand of cryptic science-hall display where there is little to no scientific proof being made. It is the feeling that visitors and observers of Danish artist Olafur Elasson could have as well, from viewing a kind of internationalist, experiential artwork that also looks sexy in a photograph. At the commence of the exhibition there is a work made from clay it looks like a heart and is made from the artist simply closing his hands in the wet fecund tropical Central American earth and letting it dry. This natural process of creativity is fetish zed in a documentary photograph of the artist's bare chest, holding the simple work he has made. Art can be so simple. Some people believe that a celebration of un-monumental artwork like the early work of Gabriel Orozco is an outgrowth and reaction towards the art market downturn that New York felt in the late 1980's and early 1990's. But that hypothesis is complicated.


Early on Orozco made simple work out of cheap materials that was both poetic and looked good in a photograph, when he was a younger man at the start of his internationally celebrated art career. Sometime later he made more sensational type work that was in addition to being simple, poetic and easy to document and reproduce mechanically, had bonus shock value of being made from controversial materials, such as a human skull. This puts Orozco in the same relative niche category of current living artist working with human body parts to which English born artist Damien Hirst is also a member. There could be an ethical discussion of when a person clearly had to die in order to provide the materials for a work, is it still art? In Hirst's case the human skull is diamond encrusted, and in Orozco's case the skull is painted in a black and white harlequin pattern.


Later on, as seen in the open-plan retrospective at Pompidou's gallerie sud, one gets the sense of a gallery represented artist who became known for shocking art biennial spectators with an empty cardboard shoe box as his sole contribution to the biennial, who turns to painting once he has a big internationally recognizable name, and large exhibition curriculum vitæ. Difficult to collect current artwork made out of cardboard boxes some what less unwieldy to show sell and collect geometrically abstract paintings in primary colors that look by and large the same because of structure format and content or relative dearth thereof, at the said artists New York midtown gallery for current museum tier art.


Towards the end of the time line we are presented with impossible objects from the wondrous cabinet of nonfunctional product design. A small car that is life size but has only one seat, a kinetic mobile that spins around like a ceiling fan in summer trailing white cloth streamers for a hermetic silent gymnastics celebration.  Spectators can enter a room that is in a container. The room itself is a monumentally un-monumental work, yes it is a big heavy expensive installation, but the interior of this space is so codified in drab and plain office space it begs the question, do I need to go to a museum to be reminded of how terrible the interior décor of the large faceless corporation where I work every day is looking? When art and the artists who make it can take the public to new wondrous unfamiliar places with the objects that they craft, how nice is it to force people back into a representation or parody of the spaces and objects they dread, like the high rise office building or the small automobile. By craniv boyd

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