Monday, December 21, 2009

Jill Krementz Photo Journal - Gabriel Orozco at MoMA

Gabriel Orozco.
Gabriel Orozco Retrospective
The Museum of Modern Art
December 13, 2009-March 1, 2010

Gabriel Orozco
was born in Mexico in 1962. His mother was a student of classical piano and his father a mural painter and art professor. Orozco studied art as a student in Mexico until 1984 and then moved to Madrid which he used primarily as a base for travel throughout Europe. Returning to Mexico City in 1987, he formed a workshop with other artists and worked with this group for the next five years.

Orozco spent the 1990s traveling to cities around the world and his work is emblematic of the locations where they were made. The show's centerpiece, for example, is a monumental sculpture of the reassembled bones of a whale excavated from the Isla Arena in Baja, California Sur.

This mid-career retrospective, organized by Ann Temkin and Pauline Pobocha examines two decades of Orozco's career. On view: 80 works revealing how the artist roams freely and fluently among drawing, photography, sculpture, installation and painting.
Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture. Ms. Temkin, chief curator of the Orozco exhibition, welcomes journalists to the press preview at MoMA.
Diana Mogollón González, Coordinator of Cultural Projects, Fundación Televisa, Mexico, Gabriel Orozco, and Glenn Lowry. Paulina Pobocha, Curatorial Assistant and co-curator of the show. Glenn Lowry, Diana Mogollón González, and Gabriel Orozco.
Artist Gabriel Orozco.
Gabriel Orozco talking to members of the press.
Wall text.
Mobile Matrix (2006) is displayed on the second floor of MoMA and can be seen as you enter the museum's lobby on the main floor, that is, if you look up.

In 2006 Orozco was commissioned by Mexico's National Council for Culture and the Arts to create a work of art for the library. Upon seeing the architectural scaffolding of the building's expansive interior, the artist envisioned a whale skeleton hanging in the central nave. Orozco assembled a team of four experts and traveled with them to Isla Arena in Baja California Sur, a sanctuary where gray whales mate, raise their young and die. After obtaining the necessary permits, Orozco and his team excavated a whale skeleton from the sand. They then cleaned and catalogued its parts, shipped it to Mexico City, where it was reassembled and fitted into a metal armature.

Orozco and his twenty assistants then created a drawing on the bones, marking the various joints with solid graphite circles which were then surrounded with numerous series of concentric rings. Six thousand pencil leads were used to create the phalanx of lines that envelops the mammoth skeleton.
Whale in the Sand, 2006.
Fey Berman, who writes about art for magazines in Mexico. Ms. Berman is surrounded by a piece called Samurai Tree Variants (2006), a series of more than 600 digital prints representing all the possible permutations of the red-yellow-blue-black-gold used by Mr. Orozco. The prints cover four walls of a second floor gallery.
My Hands Are My Heart. Two chromogenic prints. Sleeping Dog. Chromogenic color print.
Black Kites, 1997. Graphite on skull.

In the winter of 1996, one of Orozco's lungs collapsed. He spent a week in the hospital and recovered completely. But the experience affected him profoundly. Upon his release from the hospital he wanted a release from his usual ambitious level of activity. "I wanted to spend time indoors. It was wintertime; I wanted to make it a very slow process, enjoy the process. Go into this thing."

And so Orozco purchased a sculpture made of a human skull at Evolution Nature Store in Soho and then spent several months studying the skull and then covering it, inside and out, in a dense, shiny graphite grid.

What is strange about the skull is not its iconography alone, but also the fact that you treat a bodily fragment as a ready made. The skull is a found human body part. The drawing is the added element. So that's a very strange conception of what a sculpture is ... Then to add onto this peculiar structural reversal the feature of drawing and design in the way you do by claiming that peculiar parallel to Op Art and what that represents to you at the moment: that makes this a doubly-strange object.
Shown for the first time outside Mexico, a new work entitled Eyes Under Elephant Foot (2009) is made of a section of a Beaucarnea tree trunk into which glass eyes have been set.
Empty Shoebox, 1993. Orozco exhibited this piece at the 1993 Venice Biennale. With Empty Shoebox, the viewer finds an object encountered timeless times before, whose size, shape, and weight is a known and familiar quantity. Orozco tosses aside all notions of sculpture's monumentality and permanence and instead embraces the real, transient and ordinary space of everyday.
Seed, 2003. Galvanized steel mesh and polystyrene foam balls. Two Socks, 1995. Papier-mâché.
Suspended from the ceiling are several sculptures called Spumes, made of polyurethane foam. The material is often used in construction work. Injected in liquid form into the spaces between walls, it expands into the cracks, usually to act as insulation. In about forty seconds it goes from a dense, heavy liquid to a frothy, bubbly one, doubling or tripling its size and then solidifying. It was its organic quality that first drew Orazco's attention. In the artist's words: "It's a material that works and behaves like an organism, like lava, or perhaps like the universe as it expands."
Penske Work Project: Open Door, 1998. Fiber Board and wood. Raul J. Zorrilla, Executive Director of The Mexican Cultural Institute and Rubén Beltrán, Consul General of Mexico.
Wall text.
Shoes, shoelaces, and metal, 1993.
Among the works recreated for this exhibition, Yogurt Caps (1994) is the only one that echoes its original installation. Orozco made his debut at the Marion Goodman Gallery in New York in 1994 where four blue-rimmed yogurt lids affixed to four otherwise empty walls were punctuating the visual field so minimally as to be barely perceptible.
Four Bicycles (There is Always One Direction), 1994.
Until You Find Another Orange Schwalbe (1995). Comprising 40 color prints is Orozco's lighthearted diary of his travels around Berlin. While riding his own orange Schwalbe scooter, a popular motorbike produced in East Germany during the 1960's, he searched for other orange Schwalbe scooters. Orozco parked his scooter next to nearly identical ones as he found them, and photographed them, eventually forming the series of 40 prints. By photographing these East German relics that punctuate the landscape of a unified Berlin, Orozco invokes Germany's divided past.
Modified Citroën DS, 1993.
Soccer Ball 6, 2005. Incised Soccer Ball. Galaxy Pot, 2002. Plaster and gouache.
Dial-Tone, 1992. Cut-and-pasted phone book pages on Japanese paper.
A Special Reception was held that evening honoring Gabriel Orozco, MoMA's trustees, and invited guests which included Mexico's First Lady, Margarita Zavala.
Marie-Josée Kravis, President of MoMA with Glenn Lowry, Director, on their way up to the opening night reception honoring Gabriel Orozco. Ann Tempkin, Glenn D. Lowry, and
Gabriel Orozco.
Mexico's First Lady, Margarita Zavala and Emilio Azcarraga Jean, CEO, Televisa. Jerry Speyer can be seen behind Ms. Zavala. The artist with his 5-year-old son, Simone.
Margarita Zavala greets the artist.
Artist Brice Marden. "I'm a huge admirer of Gabriel and his work. We've been friends for about four years. My wife and I bought several pieces of his and he's always coming by to fiddle with them." Mixiotes, 2001. Maguey membrane, rubber ball, plastic bag and cotton string. The Mardens bought six pieces similar to this one and have a separate room for the installation of their colleague's work.
Ann Temkin with her husband,
Wayne Henrickson.
Frank Sisti, film-maker with Melia Marden, a chef. Ms. Marden is a daughter of Brice Marden.
Artist Will Barnett being helped with his wheelchair by Michael Pellettieri. Pellettieri has worked with Barnett on many projects. Will Barnett is 98 years old. "I've been coming to this museum since it began in 1929. I've been in the art world since the 20's --painting every day. I have a show this spring at the Alexander Gallery on the first floor."
Mr. Barnett is greeted and welcomed to the exhibition by Jerry Speyer, MoMA's Chairman of the Board.
Henry and Marie-Josée Kravis with Brice Marden. Ann Temkin with her friends Eleanore and Thomas Kovachevich. Mr. Kovachevich, in addition to being a well-known artist, is a practicing physician.
Wall text.
The Eye of Go, 2005. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Samurai Tree (Invariant 24X), 2006. Tempera and gold leaf on wood.
Amanda Burden and Veronique Pitman. Ms. Burden was telling Ms. Pitman that "Orozco is one of my favorite artists in the whole world."
Elevator, 1994. Modified elevator cabin.
8' x 8' by 60."
Visitors brave enough to sample the tiny elevator.
Horses Running Endlessly, 1995. Wood. Gift to MoMA of Agnes Gund and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Chess in the Schools. You can see that it is an outsize chessboard in which all the pieces are black, white or brown knights.
Catalogue for the Exhibition.
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved.