Gabriel Orozco. Naturaleza recuperada (Recaptured Nature). 1990. Vulcanized Rubber. Installation view of Projects 41: Gabriel Orozco at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Mali Olatunji

An exhibition of works by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco (b. 1962), Projects 41: Gabriel Orozco marks the artist’s first one-person exhibition in this country. The exhibition reveals the artist’s interest in the ephemeral and the immediate, and the ability of an object to interact with its surroundings and audience.

The Projects exhibition includes works from the years 1990–93, covering two aspects of Orozco’s art: a number of sculptural objects, which are installed on and between all three levels of the Museum’s Garden Hall, as well as in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden; and photographs documenting impermanent pieces spontaneously created from found objects and situations.

Orozco’s work, which challenges certain conventional notions about Mexican art, integrates elements of 1960’s and 1970’s conceptualism. Tono de marcar (Dial Tone), which occupies the space dividing the up and down escalators, includes parts of three scrolls composed of telephone numbers from the New York City, Mexico City, and Monterrey, Mexico, White Pages. The sculpture Naturaleza recuperada (Recaptured Nature), made from an inverted inner tube, is a large, misshapen rubber ball that refers to objects found amid the ancient ruins of Teotihuacán, as well as to the modern detritus of nearby Mexico City. And, in a move that echoes the kind of contradictions of expectation and reality pioneered by Marcel Duchamp, the apparently dense and heavy ball is filled with air and is, in fact, light.

The pure, curved line of Hamaca colgando entre dos rascacielos (Hammock Hanging Between Two Skyscrapers), installed between two trees in the Sculpture Garden, suggests the unlimited space with which the artist strives to work and, at the same time, alludes to the sweep of Tono de marcar. This resonance between Orozco’s objects, as well as their relationship to their surroundings—in the Museum and the world at large—is integral to his work.

The photographs on view capture the transitory nature of Orozco’s work. Gatos y Sandias (Cats and Watermelons), for example, records an “intervention” in a New York supermarket in which the artist placed cans of cat food on a display of watermelons; and Aliento Sobre Piano (Breath on a Piano) shows the moisture left by the artist’s breath on the sleek surface of a piano lid. Yet these photodocuments do more than bear witness to Orozco’s artistic activities. They “…also serve as records of snowballs before they melt, tire tracks before they dry, fruits before they rot,” writes Lynn Zelevansky in the brochure accompanying the exhibition. “There is the implication that, for those who know how to look, these images carry insights into the wery nature of time.”

After a brief apprenticeship with his father—a third-generation muralist and student, and then principal assistant, of David Alfaro Siqueiros—Orozco studied painting at the Escuela Naciónal de Arte Plástica, Mexico City. While at El Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, he executed his first ephemeral work with wood scraps discarded by a lumber store. His current work is steadily gaining recognition in Mexico, here, and abroad.

Organized by Lynn Zelevansky, curatorial assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

Projects, a series of exhibitions devoted to the work of contemporary artists, is made possible by generous grants from the Lannan Foundation, The Bohen Foundation, and the Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art. The accompanying brochure is made possible by the Mexican Cultural Institute.

Installation views

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