Material Art Fair
February 8 – February 11, 2018
For the Material Art Fair 2018, Mexico City, David Castillo Gallery exhibits three large-scale installations of works on paper by Pepe Mar, Christina Quarles and Kalup Linzy. Each artist will have one wall of about 50 works on paper, a conversation between the three installations. Pepe Mar, with his collage on paper “masks” ranging in scale from about 12 x 10 to 10 x 8 inches, a body of work most recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami. The works will all be new for the booth. The gallery will also exhibit 50 drawings by Christina Quarles, with an approximate scale of 13 x 19 inches. These drawings by Quarles have never before been exhibited anywhere. Kalup Linzy, whose performance works involve multiple personae, will participate with new collage pieces by his character “Katonya” who is herself an artist. The works are each about 11 x 14 inches.
Pepe Mar works from a tribal iconography that references his native Mexico, all tribal cultures, and also none. The sacred mythologies of his oeuvre take the form of celebrity gossip and tabloid news—the sources for the collage clippings that compose much of his work across paper and sculpture, and more recently painting. His visual vocabulary demarcates self-fashioned worlds and a cargo cult of found objects that take on the form of gods and goddesses, great beasts and apocalyptic destroyers. Mar blurs the boundaries of fantasy and reality, past and present, print media and myriad belief systems, offering bold but dubious origins for his contemporary folklore. Invention through mutation is another tool of speculative realism, not least for practitioners of color, who often do not have the privilege of discounting primary injustices when conceptualizing surrogate worlds. “The idea of separating science fiction from realism, it’s like separating the present from the past and the future,” acclaimed Afro-Futurist author Nnedi Okorafor remarks. “Those aren’t separated, those are all combined.” The artist has had multiple institutional exhibitions and has been noted in important reviews of his work, has been a past recipient of an Andy Warhol grant, and has a major large-scale solo exhibition upcoming in December 2017 at the non-profit Locust Projects, Miami.
Christina Quarles’ painting and drawing practice overwhelms the viewer with an excess of representation—a bombardment of shape, color, surface, and subjectivity which breaks down legibility and begs for an ambiguity of interpretation. The artist revels in the undefined nature of these pieces, where overlapped and rhymed forms can represent partners, lovers, or perhaps the same individual, depicted concurrently across time and place. The feminine languor of Quarles’ paintings challenges the historic bravado and machismo of the medium, while the uncertainty of her depictions mirror those of our times. Quarles’s works point to the illogical and often violent systems of control that police how bodies can occupy space and become legible in historically significant systems of representation such as drawing. Her work is compared in the October 9, 2017 issue of The New Yorker by art critic Peter Schjeldahl to 1940’s Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning and the artist has several works in two current NY museums exhibitions- “Trigger” at The New Museum and “Fictions” at The Studio Museum.
Kalup Linzy assumes the role of Katonya—a recurring artist-character from his pantheon of nearly thirty personalities—in the creation of 50 new collages for Material Art Fair. Drag as medium is central to the way Linzy constructs narratives: He dramatizes the goings-on of the New York art world and his rural Florida upbringing through the lens of soap operas, reality television and Hollywood drama, taking on most of the roles himself. Outfitted in dress and blonde wig, Linzy’s performance as Katonya enacts the economies of the art world at-large, exemplifying his greater practice and the multi-hyphenate means through which uncommon representations find their way into conventional acceptance. Linzy has exhibited globally, including museum solo exhibitions and has received major critical acclaim for his work.
Mar, Quarles and Linzy are defined by a blurring, undefined quality which layers references to here and there, without specifying any place. Together, there is an ambling to the artists in this proposal, where they digress and progress along formal threads of meaning, image and language to articulate a new kind of urgent and responsive representation for today.