This exhibition originates from an archive image: The architect Luis Barragán eats an apple while taking a walk through the site that will later be known as the “El Pedregal” residential complex in Mexico City. The image shows an indefinite landscape made out of volcanic rock, eventually it will be covered up and delimitated with concrete walls and other construction materials. The photo shows a primeval land, a newly discovered Garden of Eden. The apple, a Western symbol of fresh beginnings (good or bad), functions as a certain poetic premonition that resonates along with the fertility of the volcanic soil.
Jorge Méndez Blake creates a timeless bridge between the modernist seedlings that Barragán planted within his volcanic garden in the 1940’s and one of his first residential projects in Guadalajara, the Casa Franco built in 1929. The artist uses the checkerboard design of the original floor of this house and reproduces it through the walls of the residence and as a departure point for other works of tautological nature.
The checkerboard pattern used for flooring has a great and long tradition within the arts. Of the 31 paintings that have been attributed to the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, 13 of them show checkerboard floors. Pieter de Hooch also painted this motive repeatedly in works that depicted everyday life scenes of the XVII century. Some historians have argued that there is a representational mistake in these paintings, in the way they displayed the interior of these proto-bourgeois households in Holland and the rest of Europe.
The checkerboard flooring was normally executed with black and white marble tiles, which could only be afforded by the aristocracy and the church. Vermeer and de Hooch probably reproduced in their paintings the flooring of the New Church of Delft. The gridded floor came to represent in the pictorial realm the ultimate challenge for representing perspective and creating two-dimensional compositions with depth. Using this kind of flooring guaranteed that these architectural spaces would be portrayed with great precision and detail.
The grid produced by the checkerboard floor not only suggests an order and a certain disposition of things, it also implies the existence of a content. The grid is “inhabited” by opposite forces (thus complementary). A pattern is a way to ensure the correspondence between a group of elements, therefore proportions are consistent and can be represented in a variety of contexts. Creating a grid is a way to assuring the possibility of indefinite repetition. Whatever thing that is located within the grid can be replicated afterwards preserving its original characteristics. A clear example of this are the Persian gardens that have been designed following the chahar bagh pattern (square shaped gardens, that are sub-divided in four parts by ponds or passageways). This grid can be reproduced ad infinitum; it is the earthly materialization of a cosmovision that is translated as geometrical order, representing the four gardens of Paradise which is descripted in the Quran.
Another example of this is the hortus conclusus or “enclosed garden”, a popular pictorial motive throughout medieval Europe; in the same way as the chahar bagh this sort of garden implied the existence of a grid and a geometrical order; normally a fountain functioned as the center, and the rest of the garden was oriented based on this.
This exhibition brings together a series of possible scenarios and potential characters. The architect and the poet struggle in between praxis/action and contemplation. The garden is drawn and erased within a grid delimited by walls; extending itself, unfolding itself; creating bridges and closing doors. Barragan’s volcanic garden is now “enclosed” by the urban grid of Mexico City, a modern example of the hortus conclusus.
TRAVESIA CUATRO presents Not all those who wander are lost, the new solo exhibition by Jose Dávila, from September 12th until the 10th of November 2018. In addition to this and on the occasion of Apertura Madrid Gallery Weekend, Travesía Cuatro will present an installation of sculptures by the artist at Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden from September 12th to 16th.
Both exhibitions will present a parallel research by the artist within sculptural and pictorial language.
At Madrid’s Royal Botanical Garden Jose Dávila will construct an accumulative glyptotheque that summarizes both materially and formally the recurring elements that can be found throughout the history of sculpture. In the same way that William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin used the cut-up technique in order to produce new written works with cropped and re-arranged text, Dávila develops a similar procedure by creating vertical compositions like totems that expand the definition of sculpture by merging organic and industrial materials, found objects, minimal, figurative and classical elements.
The exhibition at Travesía Cuatro will bring together a group of paintings and silkscreens, in which a series of scientific texts are interrupted and contradicted by abstract forms that are reminiscent to modernist geometric art and neo-concrete graphics. The elements conforming these works are specific references or citations from his awareness on art history, however, the result allows for an intersubjective exchange with the public in which the superimposition of graphics and text creates a free flow of associations and ideas from where new meaning can occur.
His art making contributes to a different perception and intelligibility of the world, in an exercise that sparks our own sensorial and visual memory and addresses the concrete capacity of language to emulate and conduct human perception in the most essential level.