Petzel presents “Commonwealth and Council,” a collaborative summer show on view on the parlor floor of the gallery’s Upper East Side location.
Commonwealth and Council is a gallery in Koreatown, Los Angeles, founded in 2010. An artist-run apartment space that over the years grew—in size as well as maturity—and evolved with the artists, Commonwealth and Council now represents 37 artists, doubling down on the goal of building counter-narratives that reflect our individual and collective realities. The artists Cayetano Ferrer, Gala Porras-Kim, Nikita Gale, rafa esparza, and Suki Seokyeong Kang, who have come together in this show, converge at an interest in the unvoiced, acknowledging that meaning occurs at a host of myriad idiosyncratic registers—and propose alternative modalities of knowledge, speech, and value systems.
Gala Porras-Kim disrupts museological and anthropological conventions, playfully poking holes in the practical logic of conservators and registrars to advocate for the material and philosophical conditions that objects under institutional “stewardship” face. The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at the Met 1982–2021 fragment is a cube made of dust and residue collected during deinstallation in the eponymous gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It sheds light on the physical conditions surrounding art while also questioning what is auxiliary to the “object” and under what circumstances the residue of a culture becomes an artifact.
Upon first glance, a pair of marble fragments appear incongruously mounted on sleek pedestals. Like Porras-Kim, Cayetano Ferrer examines institutional environments and how they contextualize and project upon cultural artifacts. Ferrer underscores the feigned neutrality in the museum pedestal and proposes instead a display system that exhibits its own placelessness, calling out by extension the arbitrariness inherent in attempting to house a displaced object in a supposedly ahistorical context.
Ferrer applies this same lens to the American West and specifically the hyperreality of Las Vegas, with Remnant Recomposition 5 (Section C), a swathe of carpet composed of swatches from the floors of various Vegas casinos. Each pattern appropriates a different visual tradition—synecdoche for the ahistorical jumble of cliches presented by the casinos themselves. In Remnant Recomposition, Ferrer reappropriates this pastiching, collapsing time, place, and culture to create a hybrid entity straddling function, design, and art.
In Nikita Gale’s WATCH MEEEEEE, an imbroglio of audio cables and concrete-dipped terrycloth overtakes and disrupts the shape and purpose of an aluminum barrier like those commonly found at concerts and public events. Draped, slung, and knotted, the confusion of materials evokes both the obfuscation and conduction of sound. While from one perspective the tangles suggest an uncanny logic (a notation system perhaps), here Gale has proposed an erosion of coherence; the audio cables are planted into the ground as if tuned into some foundational, grounding frequency—or simply willfully ignoring what may be circulating outside.
Suki Seokyeong Kang similarly appropriates and reimagines collisions between the industrial and the incongruously hand-constructed, backing steel lattices with hand-woven Korean reed mats (Hwamunseok). Irregular leather scraps and stray threads playfully punctuate the modernist grid; it is as if Kang asks us to consider what subversions or tangents these seemingly rigid structures may accommodate. Kang assembles her sculptures according to an idiosyncratic syntax of form, material, and referent. In Tender Meander #19-08, a steel cylinder crowns a slice of tree trunk, supported by a cluster of wheeled legs that recall an office chair; yet the sculpture as gestalt resembles in form and proportion an anthropomorph. In compelling the viewer to navigate around and amongst these constructs, Kang suggests an awareness of how one occupies space and navigates the interstices of self and other.
A new series of paintings by rafa esparza inverts stigmas often levied against Black and Brown youth, reconceptualizing silver dental caps as status-conferring body modifications found in pre-Columbian remains. esparza renders ghostly teeth studded with stones or replaced by chunks of jade on a ground of unpainted adobe, swabbed onto a chicken-wire grid from which scraps of hay and textured chunks protrude in incidents of form and material. For esparza, adobe stands as metaphor for Brown skin; it is as if the earth anchors the teeth, even as they float unmoored or articulate a skull’s grin.
With the initiative to host other galleries originating from founding members of Galleries Curate, across the US and UK, Sadie Coles HQ and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York have also offered their exhibition spaces this summer, creating a platform for exchange and dialogue.
About the Artists
Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984, Bogotá, Colombia; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2009 and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012. Recent solo exhibitions and projects have been held at Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO (2022); Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2022); Gasworks, London, UK (2022); Amant, Brooklyn, NY (2022); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2021, 2017); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2019). Selected group exhibitions have been held at KADIST, San Francisco (2022); 34th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2021); 13th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2021); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2021, 2017); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021, 2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2019, 2016); PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2019); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019, 2017); Para Site, Hong Kong (2019); and Seoul Museum of Art (2017). Porras-Kim is the recipient of the Art Matters Foundation Award (2019), Artadia Los Angeles Award (2017), Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2016), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2015), and Creative Capital Grant (2015). Porras-Kim has been in residency at Delfina Foundation (2021), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2020), La Tallera, Proyecto Siqueiros (2019), and is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020-2022).
Cayetano Ferrer (b. 1981, Honolulu, Hawaii; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his MFA from the University of Southern California in 2010 and BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Solo exhibitions have been held at Commonwealth and Council (2019); Southard Reid, London, UK (2018); Podium, Oslo, Norway (2018); Faena Art Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2017); and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA (2015). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Galerie Nordenhake, Stockholm, Sweden (2021); Koppe Astner, Glasgow, Scotland (2020); Frieze Projects, Paramount Studios, Los Angeles (2019); Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China (2019); Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway (2017); and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017). Ferrer is the recipient of LACMA Art + Technology Lab Grant (2015), Faena Art Prize (2015), and California Community Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship (2013). He has participated in residencies at FLACC, Genk, Belgium (2019); and University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2018).
Nikita Gale (b. 1983, Anchorage, Alaska; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles in 2016 and a BA from Yale University in 2006. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at LAXART, Los Angeles (2022); 52 Walker, New York (2022); Anchorage Museum (2021); CIRCA in collaboration with Chisenhale Gallery, London (2021); California African-American Museum, Los Angeles (2021); MoMA PS1, New York (2020); the Visual Arts Center, University of Texas at Austin (2019); and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2018). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Swiss Institute, NY (2022); Cincinnati Art Center, OH (2021); Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin (2021); Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2020); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017). Gale serves on the Board of Directors for Grex, the West Coast affiliate of the A. K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems. Gale is the recipient of a FOCA Fellowship (2021); a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2017); the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship, UCLA (2016); and residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME (2019); Fountainhead, Miami (2019); the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2011-14); and the Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY (2011).
Suki Seokyeong Kang (b. 1977, Seoul, South Korea; lives and works in Seoul) received an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art, London, and an MFA and BFA in Oriental Painting at Ewha Womans University, Seoul. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Winsing Art Place, Taipei, Taiwan (2021); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2020); Mudam, Luxembourg (2019); Seoul Museum of Art (2019); and ICA Philadelphia (2018). Selected group exhibitions have been held at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2021); Seoul Museum of Art (2020); 58th Venice Biennale (2019); Liverpool Biennial (2018); Shanghai Biennale (2018); 12th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018); MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles (2018); and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2017). Kang is the recipient of the Baloise Art Prize (2018) and Songeun Art Award (2013) and has participated in a residency at Seoul Museum of Art (2014).
rafa esparza (b. 1981, Los Angeles; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his BFA from University of California, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2021); MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2019); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2018); Atkinson Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA (2017); and Ballroom Marfa, TX (2017). esparza has performed at institutions including Performance Space New York and the Ellipse, Washington, D.C. (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2018); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017). Selected group exhibitions have been held at MOCA Tucson, AZ (2021); Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University, Houston, TX (2020); Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NV (2017); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); and LAXART, CA (2017). esparza is a recipient of the US Latinx Artist Fellowship (2021), Lucas Artists Fellowship (2020), Artpace International Artist Residency (2018), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award (2017), Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2015), California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts (2014), and Art Matters Foundation grant (2014).
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York