Marco Maggi of Uruguay was one of the artists selected for the ongoing 56th Venice Biennale (through November 22), with a show that fits inside a small suitcase. Now, in his second solo exhibition at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo, set to open on November 14th, he will present a development of his piece featured at the Biennale.
The exhibition title, Uma frase com três cantos (One sentence with three corners), is a play on the word “canto” (meaning corner and chant in Portuguese) and references the large installation of stickers Maggi will create at Galeria Nara Roesler, a piece he alludes to as “a very long sentence with three corners.” It features the trademark elements of the artist’s research, including small paper cutouts whose seeming familiarity capture viewers’ attention. Nevertheless, the small and extremely precise geometrical structures mean nothing; they are only forms that require the attention of the eye in order to be viewed in their entirety.
This strategy invites the public to a slow gaze and a deep perception, with no need to arrive at a strict meaning. It makes the addictive nature of vision, and consequently thought processes, evident; especially in today’s world, where human beings are bombarded by a staggering amount of information they can hardly process. In the words of Maggi, “Everyday we are doomed to know more and understand less.”
The conceptualism of the representation shown in Venice, entirely black and white, is enhanced by the addition of primary colors, another staple of the artist’s output. The exhibition is composed of several black and white panels of variable dimensions, which contain selected snippets, cut in primary colors—blue, red, and yellow. When joined with black and white, they comprise the most basic color range, and when combined, they form every other color. Black and white cutouts are applied in contrast with the background at times, and in monochrome at others. This generates different volumes and shapes that resemble plans for imaginary cities or codes for signals that are beyond comprehension, and yet lures viewers into deciphering them.
Besides the paintings, Maggi creates an installation with these small markers and signals, in white as well as in primary colors, produced directly on the wall. Stacking Quotes, a recurrent piece in Maggi’s shows, is also featured here. It comprises a set of seven notebooks with small markers and signals in primary colors jutting out from between their pages, stacked on top of each other.
The installations made from pencils, attached perpendicularly to the wall by a rope pinned to the wall in an arched position, are represented in the show with a version containing 12 pencils, eight of them white, one red, one yellow, one blue and one black.
Dangling from the ceiling in the middle of the gallery is a 5 meter-tall staircase built from white Fanfold paper, in the form of a rope staircase. A few of the stair’s “steps” are black or made of primary colors. The intention is to have the larger structure of the staircase disappear from a distance, so that the colored steps appear to float. Once again, a sense of disagreement invites viewers to decrease the distance between themselves and the work in order to gain a better grasp of what they are seeing.
As Masp’s art director Adriano Pedrosa wrote in 2009, “The game Maggi proposes to us is full of big concealments and strategic revelations. One must take the time to look. (...) It is a silent, delicate, and slow game. Thus, we find a subtle political bent here, albeit masked by the beauty and the allure of the artwork. The slowing down is antimodern, antiprogressive, anticapitalist, antiurban and antiglobalization. (...) This feature of resistance is precisely why art becomes so fundamental to our daily lives.”
About the artist
Marco Maggi was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1957. He lives and works in New York and Montevideo. His use of paper and the intimate character of his pieces are two staples of his work. Since rising to prominence, in the 1990s, he has encouraged his audience to slow down from their daily pace in order to watch intently and delve deep into his work, the life that surrounds them, and the society they live in. Monochrome Undone, Space! (Sayago & Pardon, Tustin, EUA); Flow, just flow (Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, Richmond, EUA, 2013); MoCA’s permanent collection: selection of recent acquisitions (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, EUA, 2013), are some of the recent group exhibitions in which he participated.
He is featuring at the ongoing 56th Venice Biennale, and has also exhibited at the Cuenca Biennial, in Ecuador (2011); 17th Guatemala Biennial (2010); 8th Havana Biennial, Cuba (2003) and 25th São Paulo Biennial (2002). Recent solo shows include: Into Whiter Space, Abstraction in Action, Sayago Pardon Collection, Los Angeles, California (2015); Unfolding Marco Maggi, Josée Bienvenu Gallery, New York, USA (2015); Déplier, Xippas, Paris, France (2015); Color files (MOLAA Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, EUA, 2013); and Desinformação funcional — desenhos em português (Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012).
His works are included in the collections of the MoMA, New York, USA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, USA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, USA; and Daros Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland; among others.
Press release courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.
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