Latin American Artists Explore Found Objects In New Exhibition

BLOCK, PILLAR, SLAB, BEAM brings together four artists from across Latin America who explore the evocative potential of found objects and the basic elements of the built environment. The exhibition  takes its title from a game devised by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein that examines the language of building to explore the nature of language itself. The artists included in this exhibition—Jorge Méndez Blake, Alexandre da Cunha, Amalia Pica, and Gabriel Sierra—share a playful approach to both physical and cultural materials, building works that recall the improvised objects of everyday life, objects that derive their meaning from the practical use to which they are put.

Historically, the relationship between the individual to his or her environment has played a central role in Latin American artistic production, from the Neo-Concrete movement’s participatory, performative upending of European modernism to the conceptually and politically inflected focus on materials in the work of artists like Cildo Meireles, Gabriel Orozco, Francis Alÿs, and Doris Salcedo. A younger generation of artists has emerged that mixes these traditions, practicing a new kind of arte povera that is both pre- and post-consumer: repurposing the raw materials of construction and the end products of manufacturing. Latin America contains a number of the world’s largest urban centers and rapidly growing economies, engines that power tremendous booms in building, manufacturing, and waste. These artists engage the complex social realities at play through the life cycle of their materials.

Jorge Méndez Blake’s works use literature and architecture both as material and as content. Gabriel Sierra’s design objects, sculptures, and architectural interventions blur the lines between art and design, often applying the approach of one discipline to reframe problems in the other. Amalia Pica’s sculptures and installations rework humble materials like confetti and drinking glasses to reflect on the absurdities that exist in the relationship between language and sensory perception, as well as between artwork and viewer. Alexandre de Cunha recycles discarded objects and consumer products like beach towels and mop heads to create formally elegant, witty sculptures that playfully upend our expectations and cultural associations. Jorge Méndez Blake was born Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1974. He currently lives and works in Guadalajara. His solo exhibitions include: The Constructivist Library, Art Positions, Art Basel Miami, FL; The Marquise Went Out at Five…, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico, All the Poetry Books, Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles, CA; The Borges Library, Present Future Section, Artissima, Turin, Italy. He has been featured in such group exhibitions as: Poule!, The Jumex Collection, Ecatepec, Mexico; Resisting the Present, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, France; Mexico: Expected, Unexpected, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Where do we go from here?, Bass Museum, Miami, FL; Broken Animal, Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City, Mexico, and others.

Alexandre da Cunha was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1969 and lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions include Duble, Centro Cultural Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo; Laissez Faire, Camden Arts Centre, London; and the group exhibitions The Imminence of Poetics at the 30th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo; Mithologies, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris; Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain, Whitechapel Galllery, London; Passengers, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; as well as participating in the IV Bienal de Jafre, Girona, Spain; and the 2nd San Juan Triennial in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico. Da Cahuna’s work is alsofeatured in the permanent collections of the Tate Modern, London, and the Cisneros Collection, Miami.

Amalia Pica was born 1978, Neuquen Capital, Argentina, and lives and works in London. She has had solo exhibitions at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor; the Malmo Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden, and others. Group exhibitions include Au Loin, une ile!, Foundation Ricard, Paris and the FRAC Boredeaux; the 2011 Incheon Women Artistsʼ Biennale, Korea; ILLUMInations, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy; Recipients CIFO award, Cisneros Fontanals Foundation, Miami; Unresolved circumstances: video art from Latin America, The Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA; Weltraum/Space, About a Dream, Kunstahalle Wien, Austria; and the Aichi Triennale 2010, Aichi Arts Center, Nagoya City Art Museum, Japan, among others.

Gabriel Sierra was born 1975, San Juan Nepomuceno, Colombia, and Lives and works in Bogotá. His solo exhibitions include Irregular Hexagon as Colombian Art in Residence, Cer Modern, Ankara, Turkey, and he has participated in such group exhibitions as K., Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; The Ungovernables, The Second New Museum Triennial, New York; Untitled, 12 Istanbul Biennial, Turkey; II Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France; Art Parcours, Art 42 Basel, Basel, Switzerland; In Transition, 2010 CIFO Grants and Commissions Program, sponsored by Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; USA Panoramas, Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo; and Habitat / Variations, Bâtiment de Art Contemporain, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Switzerland.

Photo: Amalia Pica, Eavesdropper, 2011. Courtesy of Herald St, London. Image courtesy of Herald St, London and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles.

EXHIBITION: DECEMBER 14, 2012–JANUARY 20, 2013 ASPEN ART MUSEUM 590 North Mill Street Aspen, CO USA 81611

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