The Mexican artist Damián Ortega is showing his work for the first time in Brazil, in the mezzanine of Galeria Fortes Vilaça. Considered by important international critics and curators as responsible for the most relevant expression of the new Mexican contemporary art, Ortega is showing "A Matéria, A Energia" [“Matter, Energy”] in São Paulo.
At this very moment, the artist is engaging in a parallel participation in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennial, showing the most impressive of his recent creations, “Cosmic Thing,” a sculpture where all the parts of an old Beetle float in an orderly manner in space, an exploded disposition, similar to the perspective of didactic illustrations in old car manuals.
In contrast to the incredible precision of the elements in “Cosmic Thing,” in this exhibition Ortega is not presenting a work with either a formal structure or a palpable physicality. It is an installation of indefinite and mutating nature, a composition of possibilities. It consists of 1,700 normal bricks, scattered about one on top of the other from the floor to the ceiling of the mezzanine. All this matter functions merely as a simulacrum of the work of art, an indication of the sculptural potential of the physical mass present, or as energy at rest, in the moment before the true apsis of construction. Matter, energy—thus the title of the exhibition.
At the same time the installation seems to speak about the aesthetics, politics, and artisanship of the architectural process, seeking to be more argumentative than concrete. The artist purposefully chose not to supervise the material, giving up the privilege of finalizing the work and so permitting all of its versions to occur as experiences lived in the spectator’s imagination.
On a wall of the mezzanine, photographs show possible and distinct accommodations of this matter within an exhibition space: the bricks piled up methodically, formally a giant cube in the middle of the room; the bricks laid out side by side, covering the entire floor; the bricks held suspended in wires hung from the ceiling. Solid, liquid, gaseous: three phrases of a process in constant transformation.