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Gabriel de le Mora: Sounding the Trace of the Readymade at The Drawing Center


Gabriel de la Mora: Sound Inscriptions on Fabric, 2015. Installation at The Drawing Center, New York, 2016. Photograph by Martin Parsekian

Gabriel de le Mora
Sound Inscriptions on Fabric
The Drawing Center
July 15 – September 2, 2016 


Drawing is generally considered a linear process, a means toward achieving a volume in space, which becomes form. But there are other types of drawing whereby the effect happens indirectly over time.  Whether we understand drawing from a Renaissance or Baroque perspective or from a re-examination of technology from the twentieth century, whether we see it and think about it from a conceptual or physical point of view, the ongoing sense of a drawing continues to evolve as a process of delineation given to time and space, or the conjoining of time and space becoming a form of relativity that offers a more complex aesthetic understanding of being and non-being, the existential dilemma or heightened ecstasy of the present as an extension of a time/space historical consciousness. 

Gabriel de la Mora: Sound Inscriptions on Fabric, 2015. Installation at The Drawing Center, New York, 2016. Photograph by Martin Parsekian

I think of this paradigm as having a correspondence to the recent work of Mexican-born artist Gabriel de la Mora, whose work I have followed with interest for more than a decade. Parallel to this, I have discovered that the evolution of a process, given by way of relativity, is a phenomenon deeply embedded in his work.  Indeed, it is a wondrous occasion, when time and space appear on the verge of an inscrutable linkage, a connection through the ingenuity of pronounced feeling, as in the conjugation between materials, processes, and time, which inspires the history of thought and consequently instigates an inevitable engagement during the making of art.  

Gabriel de la Mora, B-135, 2015. Vintage radio speaker fabric, 7 1/4 by 5 1/8  inches. Image Courtesy of Proyectos Monclova.

De la Mora grasps this better than I can say, perhaps because it is closer to his clear-sighted temperament. His uncanny persistence of knowledge unveils an overwhelming fluidity of drawing. Whether peering backwards (in time) or envisioning forwards, his references to drawing are multifarious. They constitute an understanding of time that clarifies the purloined object in terms of reevaluating its content, and a discovery of its place within a linguistic context. Note the infinite rupture of antiquity in these sound casings, ritualized as drawings, then solemnly traversed, and anonymously enunciated within the present tense.

Gabriel de la Mora, B-189, 2015. Vintage radio speaker fabric, 7 3/8 by 12 5/8 inches. Image Courtesy of Proyectos Monclova.

Gabriel de la Mora is  kind of conceptual magician, an artist capable of reviving a trend and giving it substance. The Drawing Center is a good place to evoke this process.  Sound Inscriptions on Fabric is the title of his exhibition, a title that cautiously delineates what his work is about in the preceding decade.  What do we take from the past and how do we place it within the present? This is the essential question. The current exhibition focuses on 55 pairs of fabric gridded speaker coverings wherein the sounds of various recordings and broadcasts have emanated over a half century.  Imagine the breadth of these sounds. It is staggering to think that they may all be the same sound. Perhaps, this is the real content of the exhibition. Despite the diversity of intention, these “sound fabrics” constitute a single installation. The 55 pairs are shown symmetrically on either side of the centered line of cast iron pillars. The space is transformed into a readymade that literally divides the space into two halves. The casings in this space, constructed in different sizes, colors, and shapes, all melt down into a single image of sound, the saturated trace of sound, a mandala image that has endured more than a half century. To think that the mandala resists the inscription of commonplace time. This idea is staggering, as it embeds itself within the intention of this singular and highly refined drawing.  The dust-breeding on Duchamp’s Glass has been transformed into the historical trace of sound displaced from its origin where all sounds become the sacred OM. WM


Robert C. Morgan

Robert C. Morgan is an artist, scholar, poet, teacher, and author. Considered an authority on early Conceptual Art, Dr. Morgan  has lectured widely, written literally hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published several books, and curated numerous exhibitions. In 1992, he was appointed as the first critic-in-residence at Art Omi International Artists Residency, where in 2016, he was honored as Critic Emeritus.  In 1999, he was awarded the first ARCALE prize in International Art Criticism in Salamanca (Spain), and the same year served on the UNESCO jury at the 48th Biennale di Venezia.  In 2002, he gave the keynote speech in the House of Commons, London on the occasion of Shane Cullen’s exhibition celebrating the acceptance of “The Agreement” by the UK. In 2003, Dr. Morgan was appointed Professor Emeritus in art history at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and, in 2005, became a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Korea. In 2011, he was inducted into the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg; and, in 2016, the Department of Special Collections at the Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame, purchased The Robert C, Morgan Collection of Conceptual Art.  Much of his work since the late 1990s has focused on art outside the West in the Middle East and East Asia where his books have been translated and published into Farsi (Tehran: Cheshmeh, 2010), Korean (Seoul: JRM, 2007), and Chinese (Beijing: Hebei, 2013). Dr. Morgan has worked extensively in China with contemporary ink artists and has authored many catalogs and monographs on Chinese artists. In addition to his scholarly, he continues a parallel involvement as an artist and abstract painter (since 1970) with a major survey exhibition at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City (March 23 – April 29, 2017). His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and is included in several important collections.


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