Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gabriel Orozco

Gabriel Orozco is a Mexican artist, and a sculpture and a photographer. Living and working in New York, Paris, and Mexico, he explores philosophy, politics, and everyday objectives in his work. Part of his inspiration of his work is his love of traveling; this is mostly why different objects and landscapes appeal to him as an artist. Orozco is genius at turning an everyday object into something new in order inspire, stimulate, and give passion to his viewers. He has shown his work in many places, and these include the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Museo Internacional Rufino, and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterey.

   Black Kites, 1997.
         Human skull and graphite
Black Kites was done in 1997. Orozco used a real human skull and graphite in order to make the checkered marks on the scull. It embraces a sense of pattern and geometry that when placed on a human skull can be questioned. A skull seems very organic and biological, and it seems to conflict, yet is also enhanced, by the checkered pattern. Some of the checker squares are pulled and stretched to exaggerate the dips, curvilinear, concave and convex,  aspects of the human skull. The skull is a positive shape, but I would venture to say that the checkers cover up and play into what would be thought of as a negative space in the actual skull: the eye holes would normally be dark and empty as well as the nasal cavities; however, these checkers play into both pieces. Although this is a 2D picture, the viewer can still get a sense of the 3D nature of this object; walking around the entire skull might be necessary to achieve what the artist was trying to communicate. As Orozco is known for playing with different areas of culture and turning objects into something that they weren’t before, this skull represents just that. Maybe Orozco is talking to many different cultures through the human skull; the skull sort of unmasks the human that covered it: no one knows what race, what culture, what gender, this human was. It can represent us all as his subject of humanity. His title, Black Kites, also implies his ideas; think of what you feel as you fly a kite. It might be peaceful, difficult, a wish, a journey; these feelings are humanistic, relative to the idea of the skull.  

Oval with Pendulum, 1996

Oval with Pendulum was created by Orozco in 1996. At first glance, it seems as though it’s just a short little table, maybe a billiards game for kids. But it is oval, not square. It has no pockets. It has only three balls. There is a definite curvilinear feel about the table that keeps the viewer’s eye moving, and the circular balls do the same. The white  and red balls. The red ball in the ‘middle’ is actually hung on some sort of string, acting as a pendulum, differing from the white balls in color and movement. This gives Orozco’s project a kinetic quality. In the setup of this art piece, Orozco invites people to play with billiard sticks set up behind it. The oval shape and the fact that there are no pockets deny a player of the original game of billiards. It forces the viewer to look at it a different way. It is no longer serving as the same purpose of that original game. It represents something much deeper and very deliberate in Orozco’s mind. The people, politics, and objects in this world sometimes, most of the time, all collide; Orozco adds the motion of the red ball to represent just that: motion. Motion in this world is just as important as the collisions that happen; communication, circulation, and difficult times all come in to play.

Horses Running Endlessly, 1995
Wood:    board: ¾ x 341/3 x 34½ in. (2 x 88 x 88 cm.)
64 knights each: 3½ x 1¼ x 1¼ in. (9 x 3 x 3 cm.)

Horses Running Endlessly, created in 1995, is also another example of an average, everyday game and object, turned into something that confronts the viewer’s eye in a different way. The squares are clearly geometric with hard, linear lines. This chessboard differs from the usual: it contains four colors instead of two, it is a 16X16 square board instead of the regular 8X8, and all of the players are knights which also differ in color suggesting that there are three players with three different colors. The way that the knights are positioned defies the ideas and hard set rules of the game. They can ‘run endlessly’ because they cannot be ‘checked’ by any other player and are free to go wherever they wish. In this sense, Orozco’s content becomes a sense of a disillusionment of time and rules within that time.

My Hands Are My Heart, 1991
Terracotta, approximately 6 x 4 x 6 inches


 My Hands Are My Heart was done in 1991 out of Terracotta clay. From the photograph you can see Orozco created it with hands. However, it was clearly not done without a great amount of intention and thought. The ‘terracotta’ color is earthy, and the shape the fingers have created is completely organic. There is a sense of implied line made by the fingers, but it is very curvilinear. This is my favorite of the ones that I have shown you because of the underlying pieces I have noticed. The power of the first photograph feels like he has something hidden inside that he is protecting and savoring, and then we realize it is his heart. The imprints the fingers have made in the clay are especially intriguing; they are, in fact, in the shape of an anatomical heart. I also feel that it represents the rib cage of a human torso, the holder, the capturer, the protector of the heart. Is it his generous giving and showing of his inside emotions to his viewer? Or the continued representation of the human figure and how it relates to the world. Maybe Orozco is leaving it up to his viewer to decide, just as in all of his artworks.

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