The current exhibition at Maccarone Gallery in Los Angeles is something of a subdued affair, a pair of works by David Lamelas erected on either side of the gallery’s main, bisecting wall. The show, Lamelas’s third with the New York/Los Angeles gallery, is executed in conjunction with the current iteration of Pacific Standard Time, which included a body of the artist’s works.
David Lamelas, Untitled (Falling Wall) (1992-), via Maccarone
Born in Argentina in 1946, Lamelas has been an iconic international figure in conceptual art for over fifty years. Having immigrated to London at twenty-one, and then moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970’s, Lamelas’s work has long embodied a certain improvisatory manner, born of his frequent movements from city to city and country to country. Even now, the artist splits his time between LA, Buenos Aires, and Nice, a mentality that emphasizes his work’s often minimalist materiality while pushing a distinctly witty sense of spatial intervention, ruptures in time, and always an interest in the body’s movements through these phenomena.
As mentioned, the show includes two large-scale pieces by the artist. The first, (Untitled) Falling Wall (1992-), poses a substantially-scaled wall tilted upwards, a position that both emphasizes a movement from the vertical to the horizontal, while simultaneously posing itself as a moment of suspended chaos. The diagonal pitch welcomes a daring viewer to pass close by, to test the architectural integrity of the structure, or to keep their distance. Even as the work poses a similar spatial riddle to much of Richard Serra’s best work, Lamelas’s pieces focus in particular on these subtle invitations to the body, foregoing spatial poetics in favor of a piece that exists as much in the minds of the viewers are it does in physical space.
A similar operation occurs with Walls Are Meant for Jumping (2017). Placed on the other side of the aforementioned wall, the piece consists of a contained area, comprised of four adjacent walls, extending only partially from the floor, allowing onlookers to peer into this confined enclosure while prohibiting entry. First conceived of in the late 1960’s, this is its inaugural construction, accentuating the viewer’s physical and historical positioning. This is a considerable point, particularly in light of recent US policies towards immigration and border rights. A work conceived of in the early years of the artist’s career, and focused around a negotiation between a desire to move and the impediments in its way, the work takes on new meaning here, a new relevance in a political landscape that would negate the same mobility that made Lamelas’s early work possible. Presented for the first time, the work is a fitting look backwards, while presenting a note of hope for a more open, and mobile, future.
The show is on view through January 27th.
— D. Creahan
David Lamelas: “The Other Side” [Maccarone Gallery]