Shauna Werner visits a two-part exhibition presenting a cross section of contemporary Mexican art.
“Sin Título” is a two-part exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and the Art Gallery of the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans, assembled by curator Dan Cameron to show a wide cross section of contemporary Mexican art. The artworks in “Sin Título” explore the ways in which images and ideas are reinterpreted. Though they range from the large and architectural to the detailed and intimate, they each show how artists examine the nature of objects and how they exist in relation to structures, politics, and social ideas.
Entering Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, the space gives the impression that it’s partially under construction. Concrete pillars emerge from the floor and ceiling, connected by twisting rebar, to form Pablo Rasgado’s The Unbribable Witness of History, 2015, which evokes a building being torn down or rebuilt. The imposing stacked rocks and concrete slabs of Jose Dávila’s Untitled, 2016, make up an arrangement that almost looks as if it were left there by accident, if not for the architectural balance and purposeful placement of its components. Less industrial-looking works, including Hugo Crosthwaite’s satirical hand-drawn book Tijuana Bible No. 2, 2017, foster more intimate experiences. Being able to hold and flip through the book connects the viewer to the artist and his perspective of life and politics in Tijuana.
The show’s consistent theme of repurposing of material is perhaps most poignant when presented subtly. Pedro Reyes’ Palas por Pistolas, 2006, on view at both Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and the Mexican Consulate, is comprised of a shovel mounted on a wall at each location with a small TV screen and a single potted tree. Though unassuming at first, closer examination reveals that each shovel was made from a melted-down gun from a campaign to get weapons off the streets of Culiacán, a city in western Mexico. As a protest against gun violence, Reyes worked with community members to use these guns-turned-shovels to plant trees in a botanical garden. Martin Soto Climent’s series of photographs Marea de Espuma, 2015, captures softly-lit, pastel-colored close-ups of sheets of foam, turning an everyday object into something abstract and less familiar.
Although the works in “Sin Título” vary in their approaches, they all speak to how materials can convey different points of view. The exhibition resists oversimplified, one-dimensional portrayals of contemporary Latin American art, presenting a broad and complex picture of Mexican art and artists today.
“Sin Título” is on view through December 30, 2017, at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (400A Julia Street) and the Art Gallery of the Consulate of Mexico (901 Convention Center Boulevard, Suite 118) in New Orleans.
Shauna Werner is a senior at Tulane University and is part of Pelican Bomb’s internship program with local undergraduate students.