Jose Dávila: Daylight Found Me With No Answer at Max Wigram Gallery, London, from September 24 to October 25, 2014
– What man seeks, to the point of anguish, in his gods, in his art, in his science, is meaning. He cannot bear the void. He pours meaning on events like salt on his food. –
Francois Jacob, biologist (1920-2013)
In Dávila’s second solo exhibition at Max Wigram Gallery, the notion of equilibrium functions as the visual and conceptual backbone of the artist’s hybrid works. Dávila here presents new sculptures and works on paper, with which he returns to his long-standing interest in the use and occupation of space, and in the relationship between form, function, and meaning.
A number of sculptures constructed of sheets of marble and glass seem to be frozen, mid-fall, held in place, off-balance, by a single, brightly coloured industrial belt bolted into the gallery. These quietly menacing, seductive structures embody the sheer potentiality of balance: in their stillness, lies the possibility of fall.
In Dávila’s sculptures, the principles of classical geometry find their material counterparts in the fundamental building blocks of architecture. The line traced by the belts across the surface of glass and marble appear as an act of outlining in space, a stability of the structure, manifesting the struggle with gravity in a three-dimensional drawing. With this gesture, Dávila reminds us that tranquility is the manifestation of a neutralised conflict, to which each element comprising the sculpture must participate.
The efficiency of these sculptural constructions foregrounds our desire to imbue them with meaning – to see them as a reflection on architecture, urbanism, or cultural history. Combining the works with a narrative exhibition title, Dávila prompts us to find a connection, bringing to the fore the very question of the relation between form and content, and how meaning is produced.
The sculptures’ game of balance is repeated across the clusters of individually framed prints of iconic images from the history of Modern art, intervened on with irregular strokes of brightly coloured paint. Like the belts, these lines are the physical manifestation of invisible forces, painted by a brush attached to balloon inflated with helium, hovering over the paper, introducing chance into the stillness of the exhibition.
In Daylight Found Me With No Answer, Dávila performs a balancing act. Conflicting forces are caught in a state of rest, to allow reflection on modern history and its cultural tropes.
Jose Dávila (b. 1974, Guadalajara, Mexico) lives and works in Guadalajara. Dávila’s exhibition include a solo presentation at Museo Tamayo in Mexico (2015); and previous shows at PS1, New York; Kunstwerke, Berlin; San Diego Museum of Art; Prague Biennale; Camden Arts Centre, London; JUMEX Foundation, Mexico City; Caixa Forum, Madrid; MUMOK, Vienna; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. Dávila’s work is part of many public collections, including JUMEX collection, Mexico City; MUDAM, Luxembourg; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; La Caixa Foundation, Madrid; Inhotim, Brazil; Museum of Latin American Art, Argentina; MUAC, Mexico City; Museo Amparo, Puebla.