- Milena Muzquiz
This exhibition was born out of traffic jams and swift highway transit; stillness combined with acceleration. The language of street signs fighting to cling to anyone’s available attention against the indifference of landscape as a backdrop. Late afternoons and city imagery liquifying in the rear mirror. Even if all of the exhibited artworks are at a standstill they are embedded with movement and speed. Each turn an invitation, each angle a change of posture.
Milena Muzquiz’s paintings and sculptures are the product of a sensibility towards language in which every thought and consideration shares value and pertinence, receiving a certain degree of attention and care. This democracy of meaning enables gestures to configure themselves as visual puns; wordplay enacts a method for pictorial construction. Blotched flowers, monkeys and smokers appear in the canvases in the same way as witty thoughts pop up in the brain. Amusement becomes a form of contemplation.
Within the exhibition Muzquiz presents a series of phrases and words made with ceramics. These works are glossy handmade fossils of modern language, distancing themselves from the tradition of text-based art which relies on the cold and mechanical reproduction of linguistic signs as pure abstract shapes. Instead of entering the concrete dynamic of the lack of symbolic implications and the separatism from the human realm, these word-sculptures dwell deeper into elusive commonplace experiences: riddles printed on a milk carton, jumping patterns among the traffic signs, accidental conversations that grow as tangled vines, a clever phrase printed on a t-shirt. These ceramics can be understood as condensed feelings into one-liners captured within paused formulation.
A series of totem-like sculptures work as symbolic magnets, attracting to their core rubbles of language, scraps of nearby objects and fragments of the surrounding landscape. These vertical hybrids blend together scenery and people in order to assemble a lyrical collage that resonates towards an intimate order established by the artist. Through contact and touch which have a transformative quality in Muzquiz’s sculptural practice, these objects enter the orbits where the artist normally transits: her studio, domestic space, the city of Los Angeles and beyond, but also taking a detour to the subjective realm in order to do some inward sightseeing.
When looking at the panorama of sculptures and paintings that shape up Kilometraje, a torrent of dramatic references comes to mind: facial expressions fluctuating between the extremes of the human psyche, like the masks used in ancient Greek tragedies or in Japanese Noh dramas, objects as contained emotions; floral patterns and animal prints as clothes that have been petrified into colorful stone; flower vases replicating themselves and growing as corals into fractal continuity. Arranging the latitudes of thought within towers of stacked meaning, slowly step on the gas and everything drifts away into the horizon.
Andrés González, November 2020
Milena Muzquiz (b. 1972, Tijuana, Mexico) trained at the California College of Fine Arts, San Francisco and then completed an MFA at the Art Centre College of Design, Pasedena, tutored by legendary conceptual artist Mike Kelley.
She has presented solo exhibitions at: David Gill Gallery, London (2019); Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, lead by the Getty Foundation (2017); Travesía Cuatro, Madrid, Spain (2019, 2017, 2014); Travesía Cuatro, Guadalajara, Mexico (2014); Pantaleone Gallery, Palermo, Italy (2010); Interior Projects, Los Angeles (2008); and Deitch Projects, New York, USA (2000).
She has also exhibited in institutions including: Bohossian Foundation, Villa Empain, Brussels (2017); La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain (2016); Dickinson Gallery, NY, USA (2016); Peter Kilchmann (2015); 6th Liverpool Biennial (2010); 28th São Paulo Biennale (2008); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2007); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006).
Between 1995 and 2008 she was part of the musical duo Los Súper Elegantes, which she founded with Martiniano López Crozet. Combining installation, video-art and music, the band performed in museums, galleries and art fairs as well as music festivals accross Latin America and the United States.
The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.