Gabriel Rico’s formulas are brief and precise expressions to make, solve or achieve something concrete. Thus, they are processes helping to resolve problems or carry out tasks with a series of symbols and rules. The big difference between mathematical formulas and Rico’s is that our artist's symbols are 'things'; objects steeped in value for being real by their very nature. Therefore, these applications are not intended to be a symbolic or abstract representation of a real being but the synthesis or fusion of things that exist on the material plane. Here, we are reversing the traditional process of representation, experimenting with absurd procedures, then, instead of ignoring reality, taking the physical nature of these objects and combining them to see what happens.
Perrotin is pleased to present Gabriel Rico's Nature Loves to Hide. Thirteen works are installed across four major galleries, hosting two wall installations, seven assemblages with a strong sculptural element and a mural packed with 'formulas' arranged across a vast wall. Together, these works form an experience of delirium and dialectical tension. Unlike the direct abstraction we form when establishing the overall meaning of something, and contrary to the 'clarity' of the identity principle which defines an object based on the images we associate with it, these operations are fundamentally visual—the synthesis of objects that do not evoke a conventional image but, first and foremost, a simple material presence.
For example, the II Mural piece presents a series of commonplace objects and a handful of arrows (similar to the if and only if arrows in positional logic) pictured on the white expanse of the wall. The link between these volumes and the graphite symbols is puzzling. And though we cannot clearly decipher his general codes, they are nonetheless eloquent and intuitively legible. A Husserlian épochè is at play where the material nature and physical force of 'things' manifests without intervention. The symbols of if and only if are logical connectives more difficult to assimilate and connect with colloquial language. Here, they serve to make 'connections' between the objects, linking these products and suggesting a certain type of value. In reality, there is no logical—rational meaning and they produce only the effect of absurd connection. Shaped by the same principles is XXVI—More robust nature… more robust geometry which presents three parts: a stone, a small round cover in rusty tin and a crooked tree branch which are linked by a neon light running along the edge and unifying the items. The fluorescent gleam passes through each of these objects, ultimately connecting them.
We also have works such as Unity & Uniformity (La Mitla de hérétiques) where more than 200 roughly hewn brass plates are arranged in a space approximately three meters in diameter, representing the full-scale feathers of Mesoamerican birds. The structure presents a regular pattern that repeats and multiplies over and over, thus creating a perfect visual texture. Interestingly, of these feathers arranged on the wall, only two are from real birds. Despite the colour and material contrast between the roughly hewn metal and the real feathers, the oppositional effect is almost imperceptible owing to the scale of the ensemble. This playful touch forces us to question the powerful landscape produced by the artificial sheets and appreciate the uniqueness of a pair of natural keratin feathers.
To conclude these descriptions, we have one of the large-scale installations entitled Crudelitatem (I will say the Romans that spread upon the world but it was the world that spread upon the Romans). This large piece is full of marble sand which covers the entire expanse of one of the gallery’s rooms. In the center of this arid landscape rises the trunk of a withered fibreglass tree with a bee’s honeycomb in traditional ceramic suspended from a single, rickety side branch. With a series of cylindrical rings with varying radii, the honeycomb overflows with abundant honey which trickles down and drips, thus bathing the human skull at the foot of the tree with succulent sweetness. It appears as though the dead man finally stopped to receive the food he had long waited for. The cryptic sense of this visual fable is effective, causing amusement and a wicked exasperation. This installation functions like a dark tale that confronts us at the denouement with our own mortality but not before offering an absurd and sickly sweet reward.
If language is a formalised system of signs creating all manner of interactions, then this is the socialization tool we have to communicate and generally learn. To make this possible, it is first vital that it operate according to strict rules and general codes. However, this does not always happen as expressions emerge that break with logical order. Psychoanalysis and surrealism have explored symbolic applications that develop according to more complex and playful connections. Contemporary hermeneutics, especially the interpretations triggered by French post-structuralism, offer plenty with which to interpret these 'figures' so they need not remain in a dark and indecipherable place. Somehow, the right questions emerge to challenge this type of construction. Thus, there are QUESTIONS that rebuke from an unusual perspective and give unique meaning to these products. These are the questions asked by Gabriel Rico in this exhibition for Perrotin Paris.
Patrick Charpenel, Executive Director of Museo del Barrio, New York
Press release courtesy Perrotin.