MEXICO CITY- The past month has been a crazy time for Mexico City’s art scene between art fairs, pop-ups, and countless openings/performances at museums and galleries. I’ll be posting updates of highlights—starting with group show The Queen Falls at Galería OMR, Rafael Uriegas: Cueva Semilla Sol & Keke Vilabelda: Overwrite at Galería Karen Huber, and a pop-up from digital art edition producers Janet40.
The Queen Falls
Calle Córdoba 100, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Norte, CDMX
On view until March 25th
Curated by Anissa Touati and Marc Olivier
Artists: Jose Dávila, Alicja Kwade, Jorge Macchi, Jorge Méndez Blake, Gabriel Rico, Ugo Rondinone, Tatiana Trouvé, Oscar Tuazon, James Turrell
The Queen Falls refers the last act of Hamlet, or a turning point in a chess game. But really, this show speaks to a sense of wonder. That’s largely thanks to the gallery’s gorgeous new digs inside a thoughtfully renovated brutalist office building. The curators made great use of the space’s potential for vertical procession—the show begins with a series of Ugo Rondinone sky paintings that evoke windows, hung in a courtyard-like gallery, and ends with one of his neon rainbow sculptures, perched on the roof of a neighboring hotel.
Along the way, the exhibition weaves through indoor/outdoor spaces, and many of the works appropriately reference sky gazing. These include a small James Turrell light box and Alicja Kwade’s “Adimaginemachine, 2017” installed in respective darkened alcoves. Kwade’s piece is totally hypnotic. A hunk of rock and a gold iPhone orbit each other, and there is some sort of augmented reality star chart playing on the phone’s screen. The tiny view of the heavens changes in relationship to the phone’s orientation on its orbit around the stone. I read this as a contemporary nod to the Pre-Copernican understanding of the cosmos, in which the Earth was the center of the universe and all the drama of astronomy played out above us like a rotating screen. Maybe “smart” phones and communication networks are facilitating self-centered worldviews and “alternative facts”?
The exhibition leads onto a balcony and up a flight of stairs to a rooftop garden. Across the street, Rondinone’s kinda-cheesy “We Are Poems” sign is installed on a neighboring building (I apologize for the crappy photo). It’s not the best of his neons (really, what could top the bad-ass, universally loved “HELL, YES!“?) But It functions snuggly as a bookend to the paintings. If the show begins with artificial sky in a bunker-like room, it’s appropriate to end with an artificial rainbow on horizon-less, smoggy city rooftop at night.
Rafael Uriegas: Cueva Semilla Sol & Keke Vilabelda: Overwrite
Galería Karen Huber
Av.Bucareli #120 (upstairs) Col. Juárez, CDMX 06600
On view until March 10th
Karen Huber is showing a series of pink-toned brushy abstractions by Rafael Uriegas, and process-based paintings by Keke Vilabelda in the project room. Uriegas’s paintings are inspired by caves, seeds, and sunlight—but thanks to their fleshy palette often evoke the body. The ones that veer closest to pure abstraction/light studies (such as “Cortina”) might be the strongest, but I found myself predictably drawn to the ones that verge on sci-fi landscapes (I am a total nerd for vintage sci-fi cover art). That association with illustration might be attributed to Uriegas’s use of almost exclusively small, dense brush strokes—that’s something somewhat unusual for large abstract paintings, and lends them an approachable, “modest” vibe.
Keke Vilabelda’s canvases, on the other hand, look downright abused. Inspired by the tradition of romantically documenting the city a-la-impressionism, Vilabelda’s works are described as somewhat of a memento mori for the built environment—dislocating textures of wear and tear from the urban landscape. Every painting looks like it’s been scraped, blasted, or tagged.
These paintings aren’t conventionally beautiful—they’re all about materiality moreso than image. Their treatment as sculptural objects on the floor feels more satisfying. If referencing the surfaces of construction materials, it makes more sense to see them as building blocks.
Pop-up at Edificio Humboldt
Articulo 123 #116, 06010 CDMX
Artists: Jakob Kudsk, Salvador Loza, Alfredo Martinez, Claudia Maté, Gibrann Morgado, Daniel Pérez Ríos, Sam Rolfes
For two nights, digital art edition producers/distributors Janet40 and 3D online gallery Vngravity threw one hell of an art party. It’s all too rare that digital art translates well to IRL spaces, so this event remains noteworthy weeks later. Down to the Tumblr-hued lighting scheme and beverages, everything felt considered and deliberate without coming across as overly precious.
In a loft, Vngravity presented a tight show of digital artworks. Alfredo Martínez’s VR headset transported viewers to an intensely-realistic rocky landscape. This imagery, combined with the knowledge that a real-life ledge was a few feet away made the experience that more disconcerting. As soon as my friends picked up the headset from a glowing plastic table (bulbous like the VR landscape), it was replaced with an iPad.
Claudia Maté’s looping animation, displayed on a phone, was one of the smartest presentations. Watching a rendering of (presumably) the artist’s finger swiping through a surreal Instagram was so strangely hypnotic. Hung at approximately upturned-hand level, I caught myself feeling momentarily embarrassed that I was staring at social media in an IRL social space. It was a truly uncanny moment of contemporary trompe-l’œil.
More recent Mexico City coverage:
- Museum Punk Show in Need of A Sound Guy
- Material Light on Substance, Heavy With Dick Pics
- Slideshow: Zona MACO, The Art Fair Where Commerce and Politics Make Strange Bedfellows
- We Went to Mexico: General Idea at Museo Jumex Restored Our Faith in Art For Fuck’s Sake
- We Went to Mexico: Barbara Kruger and Juan Pablo de la Vega Take the Subway
- The Timelessness of Sex, Violence, and Portraiture: Otto Dix at MUNAL