Currently on at Marian Goodman’s New York exhibition space, artist Gabriel Orozco is presenting a body of new works drawing on his continued exploration of global and local cultural formats, and the possibility for performance and repositioning within their varied aesthetic and conceptual palettes. For this exhibition, Orozco presents a new series of tempera paintings in a large and small scale, and a selection of new watercolor collages which expand upon his Suisai series, begun in 2016.
All of the works on view at the show were completed over the past few months of COVID-19 lockdown, with the artist working out of his apartment in Tokyo, and exploring a range of potentials for either introspective, personal work, or through a range of remote communications with other parties. The result is a series of meditative works run through a range of expressive hands and techniques, each one orchestrated in its own mode of practice.
In one body of work, the artist has selected a series of tempera paintings began as spontaneous, quick, and fluid line drawings Orozco made in his notebooks, which would then serve as the skeleton for the final work. These notebooks play a key role in Orozco’s work, often replacing the studio as a daily site of experimentation and new ideas, and serving as the place where granular, momentary concepts are allowed a life of their own. Selecting from these scribbles and doodles, the artist transferred the gestures to canvas, massively expanding their scale while focusing on a more methodical approach towards color placement, contrast and space. The works take on a sense of carving through space, using these original lines and lending them form and heft as he adds flourishes and embellishments to them. The end result resembles flowers, leaves, tree branches, or other elements of nature—a motif that runs through much of Orozco’s work.
By contrast, the artist’s Suisai collages are made using Japanese watercolors, painted onto shikishi (specially prepared paper fixed onto a hard backing). The pieces make new inquiries into familiar forms and practices here, incorporating his familiar signature circles and diagrams, and his regular reliance on mixtures of both discipline and accident. Orozco adds in various elements of mixed media and collage: tape, paper, gouache, graphite, stamps. Some of them are layered with many colorful elements while others are more contemplative and quiet with minimal colors and brush strokes. The twenty small collages on view in the North Viewing Room particularly recall Orozco’s Roto Shaku series (2015) where he wrapped lengths of wood with various tapes he found in a Tokyo craft store. As with the tempera paintings, some of the shapes in the Suisai begin to take on forms found in nature: flowers, vines, leaves.
The tempera paintings emanate a pure, still quality, while most of the collages contain a frenetic, colorful sense of nature. Taken as a whole the exhibition strikes a palpable balance between meticulous craftsmanship and instinctive, intimate, mark-making.
The show closes October 24th.
— D. Creahan
Gabriel Orozco at Marian Goodman [Exhibition Site]