Following a meticulous process, Gabriel de la Mora researches, collects, classifies, catalogues, and manipulates remarkably diverse materials. These materials are familiar, taken from quotidien objects – his ongoing series The weight of thought for example, repurposes leather and rubber shoe soles. de la Mora’s materials of choice are those often considered waste or residue: collected artifacts and antiques, obsolete mechanical and utilitarian objects, parts, corporeal matter, architectural scrap. Through these, De la Mora explores finitude and permanence, the passing of time, its bracketing, and the transformation of matter and energy alike.
The formal outcome of this process plays with pre-established notions of drawing, painting, and sculpture. Characterized by their visual potency, the works complicate theoretical and historical art terms (the ready-made, the objet-trouvé, the monochrome, the peinture en plein air). They tackle ironically the abstract and minimalist aesthetic, and inquire on the ever-changing notion of painting as a phenomenon. Can painting originate itself with the passing of time and without any intervention from the artist’s hand? This apparent negation of painting and other ontological musings formulated by de la Mora’s body of work are extended to artistic practice at large: When is an artwork born and when does it reach its conclusion? What is the role of the artist within the creative act? Coupled with equally methodical and strict processes, Gabriel de la Mora has constituted a practice in which the role of the artist is not to create nor to destroy, but to transform.
Gabriel de la Mora was born in Mexico City in 1968, where he still lives and works. He earned an MFA from Pratt Institute, NY and a BFA in Architecture from Universidad Anáhuac del Norte, Mexico City. His work has been exhibited at solo and group shows in museums and galleries in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom, amongst others. He is represented by Timothy Taylor (London), Sicardi Gallery (Houston), and Proyectos Monclova (Mexico City).
Sicardi Gallery booth B6
Gabriel de la Mora
Miguel Angel Ríos
Miguel Angel Rojas
Martín Soto Climent, Adrien Missika & Gabriel de la Mora @ Proyectos Monclova booth / Paris Internationale 2016.
Obsidian series, 2013 – ongoing
Obsidian or volcanic crystal has historically diverse functions and attributes. From the Stone Age to the founding cultures of Mesoamerica, it was one of the most highly valued raw materials. In his series Obsidian, de la Mora unpacks both the material’s cultural significance as well as its compelling material qualities (like glass, it is both tough and fragile). In the work, de la Mora draws connection between the material and cultural significance of obsidian and the neon signs prevalent across the United States in the 1960s and 70s. During this time, neons were associated with a new urban culture, to the changing landscape of the city and to the advancing economy. Following Conceptual Art’s lead, this series features words, phrases, numbers, and sculptures carved in obsidian. The failed attempts to create these works are also featured within the series.
Neon tube lighting is essentially electrical energy transformed into white light. As for obsidian, while it is being carved it is transformed from an opaque mass into a and sleek and reflective material; its surface becomes a dark mirror, a monochrome. Through the process, the obsidian’s significant metaphysical properties are revealed, namely, its ability to transform negative into positive energy. Furthermore, thematically, the series interest revolves around impossibility: attempts to replicate in obsidian the thin glass tubes used for neon signs lead to the material immediately shattering. Yet, de la Mora tries to do so, keeping and displaying as part of the series his attempts, documenting his almost sisyphean task. Thus, the series is a recipient, via negativa, of persistence and of the quest for perfection, both marked traits of the artist’s practice.
Lastly, these works produce a transmutation of the cultural understanding of a material. An eminently prehispanic and ancestral material, to which spiritual connotations are usually assigned, obsidian is now recontextualised as signifier of mass industry; that which relies on gridded electrical, rather than metaphysical power.
Arte para la Nación
Galería Nacional, Palacio Nacional, México City, México
23 de Junio hasta 16 de Octubre 2016