LondonMateo López: Make Do and Mend
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For the artist, the message ‘Make Do and Mend’ speaks to how “we must shrink for the future good: slow down, take care of each other, reflect on consumer practices. This message was commonly used during WWII – a period also defined by fear and control. Make Do and Mend speaks metaphorically to questions of transforming and mending ourselves and society”.
Make Do and Mend brings into focus López’s interest in art as a means of engaging with questions of repair, defined by his ongoing search to build and shape a different future – a process which unfolds into diverse references from Latin American art, architecture, design and education.
López’s practice is anchored in drawing and often expands to incorporate other mediums. For this exhibition of collage, sculpture and film, López worked with local carpenters, welders, weavers and a seamstress, transforming the artist’s studio into a lively work community at a time when lockdown measures in Bogota have threatened to restrict these collaborations.
The collage works, which make up the majority of the exhibition, form part of the ongoing series The waste of my time in which López repurposes unused materials in his studio. The latest works in this series were made in the artist’s New York studio just before lockdown, using cardboard, acrylic paint and grommet.
López draws inspiration from an anecdote on Josef Albers at Bauhaus Preliminary Class in 1923, which encapsulates his playful and paired down approach. As told by López: “Albers entered the classroom with a bundle of newspaper under his arm. ‘Ladies and gentleman’, he said, ‘we are poor and not rich. We cannot afford to waste materials or time. Every piece of work has a starting material, and therefore we must examine the nature of this material. I would like you to take these newspapers in hand and make something more out of them than what they are at present. If you can do so without any accessories, such as cutters, scissors or glue, all the better.”
For the artist, “this pandemic has revealed that we have taken a lot for granted. We are not here to rule and we cannot control life. We inhabit constant cycles of change – as social beings our actions have direct impact. With this in mind, I find myself asking how to approach my practice on the potential to transform, to mend, to heal. I believe that art is not static – that it has the power to activate necessarily dialogue and that our body is always present (an Experience).”
Mateo López (b. 1978, Bogotá, Colombia) lives and works between Bogotá and New York. He studied architecture for two years at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá before switching to Visual Arts at Bogotá’s Universidad de Los Andes.
López’s work engages with cartographies, journeys and construction processes while grappling with themes of chance, encounter and time. His practice traces a conceptual approach, expanding from drawings to installations, architecture, films and sculptural choreography. Key international solo exhibitions include Sin Principio / Sin Final Museo de Arte Universidad Nacional, Bogota, Colombia (2018); Undo List, The Drawing Center, New York, USA (2017); A Weed is a Plant Out of Place, Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Ireland (2016) and Deriva at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2009). Important group exhibitions include United States of Latin America, curated by Jens Hoffmann and Pablo León de la Barra at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, USA (2015); A Trip from Here to There, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (2013) and Ha sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar, 29 Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2010).
Major awards and residencies include the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. William
Kentridge’s Protégé, Geneva Switzerland in 2012 and the Gasworks Residency Program, London, UK in 2010, which was followed by an exhibition.
López’s work can be found in public collections around the world, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Banco de la Republica, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá, Colombia, Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY.
Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery