Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sin Titulo at Consulado de Mexico Art Gallery and the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

Mexico and New Orleans share more history than most people realize. Not only is Nola home to Mexico's oldest U.S. consulate, even its war for independence was initially plotted by Benito Juarez from his French Quarter home in exile. (His statue stands a few blocks away on Rampart St. in Treme.) More recently, when we faced a grim future in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of Mexicans arrived to help kick start our recovery. As curator Dan Cameron notes in his introduction to this Sin Titulo (“Untitled”) exhibit, both places have histories of collaborative community building. These works by seven contemporary Mexican artists reflect sleek new iterations of themes sometimes rooted in successive layers of civilizations that evolved over millennia.

Such sensibilities abound in the work of Pablo Rasgado whose twisted steel girder and pock marked wall sculptures loom next to crumbled plaster concoctions like mini-mesoamerican monuments crafted by a latter day Aztec Giorgio De Chirico. But architectural forms surprisingly morph into paradoxical minimalist pop art in Jose Davila's shape-shifting take on the nature of public space. Similarly, what seem like colorful wall mosaics of tiny tiles turns out to be tiny pictures in Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Reporters with Borders shadow boxes collaged from the photo IDs of news reporters entangled in the public and private networks of omnipresent media. Gabriel de la Mora takes granularity to an extreme in works that suggest homespun terrazzo floors, but are really maniacal assemblages of tiny found objects refashioned as granite or marble-like surfaces that somehow bypassed the processes of geologic time. Pedro Reyes' edgy sculptures like Disarm, a skeletal guitar crafted from metal gun parts, suggests a modern take on “swords into plowshares” – but Martin Soto Climent's re-purposed fabric sculptures reveal softly delicate folds that mimic fleshly vulnerability. Hugo Crosthwaite returns us to Mexico's legendary border towns with his Tijuana Bible series of graphics based on “carpas” – Tijuana's lurid, fantastical sideshow spectacles that remain forever etched in the popular imagination. ~Bookhardt / Sin Titulo: Recent Works by Contemporary Mexican Artists; Through Dec. 30, Consulate of Mexico Art Gallery, 901 Convention Center Blvd, Suite 118, 528-3722, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471. See Also: Josephine Sacabo's Barking at God: Retablos Mundanos hand colored photogravures, left, investigating the pervasive presence of ephemeral and eternal themes on the streets of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and New Orleans, at A Gallery for Fine Photography thu Dec. 31.