Jose Dàvila:River Stones

Jose Dàvila:
River Stones

2024.4.5 - 5.18

A secret wish | 2023 | Photo by Agustín Arce | ©Jose Davila
Press Release

Venue: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: 4.5 – 5.18, 2024
*Gallery hours: Tue. ~ Sat. 11:00 – 19:00 (Closed on Sunday, Monday and National holidays)
Opening reception: 4.5 (fri.) 17:00 – 19:00
The artist will join us for the opening reception.

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present Mexican artist Jose Dávila’s Japan-first solo show River Stones. In his work Dávila embodies artistic and architectural elements appropriated and recontextualized from iconic artists throughout history, and by so doing he reflects on the definition of conceptual art that states that it is the content and not the form what gives importance and meaning to a work of art.
Through his practice, Dávila investigates aspects such as space, mass, balance and materiality, which are all an example of physical force, creating works whose shape is in constant conversation with art history.
Bringing to the fore a visual articulation of the force of gravity through precarious balance, and a desire to draw attention to historical references that have particular meaning for the artist, the exhibition features a selection of new works which consists of 9 paintings and 2 sculptures.

A look at Jose Dàvila’s solo show: River Stones

For his body of work, The fact of constantly returning to the same point or situation, showcased here on occasion of the artist’s solo show, Jose Davila has drawn on the definition of circularity he came across with in the dictionary. As clearly hinted by the title itself, each canvas features a combination of concentric circles perfectly executed, impossible to achieve by hand. The discordant nature that characterizes aspects such as brushstrokes, outlines, choice of colors, circles’ overlapping and combination evokes in the viewer the iconography of the circle throughout art history.
A few examples that come to mind: Frank Stella’s Protractor Series; Gabriel Orozco’s diagrams; the Neo-Concretism of Willys de Castro; Sonia Delaunay’s Orphism; the mysticism of Hilma af Klint; Francis Picabia’s mechanized world; and the rhythmic quality of Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s paintings.
By reconstructing and rearranging on the surface the circular forms that have captivated artists from different times, Davila seems to create a sort of mandala effect where dimensions that would not normally intersect, simultaneously coexists and communicates.
Oftentimes, the linen fabric of the canvas inside and outside the circle’s circumference is left exposed, as if hinting at its being cut out from another dimension, and, now and then, that empty space is incorporated into another circle. To Davila absence and presence are equally meaningful, and geometric figures, which are not subjected to any kind of authorship, are just as essential as artworks, which, on the contrary, cannot be set apart from their author.
If we look at the iconic circular forms throughout art history as an attempt to repurpose the traditional concept of circle as something symbolizing perfection and idealism (performed by each artist according to their very unique style), Davila paradoxically brings forth the essence of the circle as an idea through their reappropriation, combination and reconstruction.
The concepts of reappropriation and reconstruction can also be seen in the two sculptural works, Acapulco chair stack (2024) and A Secret Wish (2023), whose enigmatic humor brings to mind Duchamp. Davila’s inspiration behind these two works can be traced back to a chair, called indeed Acapulco chair, designed to wrap around the body as some sort of hammock thanks to its metal row being wrapped with some vinyl cording, and whose popularity spread from Mexico to the rest of the world.
This design has no author or owner (very much like the circle); it can be reproduced or altered by anyone. Davila’s Acapulco chair stack features river stones of different scale placed within the metal row of two Acapulco chairs stuck together, and from a distance such a material ensemble makes it looks like some sort of planet system where the river stones represent small planets and the yellow metal row their orbits. Each component has not been fixed or permanently glued to the structure, thus implying the possibility that such delicate balance may collapse if touched. If we take a look at sculpture in art history from the 20th century, thinking of Brancusi’s or Anthony Caro’s work for instance, we could finally witness the rise of a tendency to pursue lightness as if freed from weight, floating in space, yet, with his work Davila emphasizes once again that it is impossible to escape from that sort of material quality.
While entrusted with their weight to the unreliable metal frame, the stones also function as a counterweight that gives stability to the chair, keeping it firmly on the ground, emphasizing the mutual reliance between human-created, industrial, geometric forms and the organic shapes of nature.
The work, seemingly displaying that moment frozen in time right before everything may collapse, also highlights the irreversibility of time. Naturally, both metal frame and stones are hard materials, and, even if they do collapse from the wall, they won’t shatter into small pieces. Yet, there is an atmosphere imbuing everything, viewers included, with suspense, that intuitively makes us feel that there is no turning back, tying viewers to artworks in a relationship of seeing/being seen built on mutual trust.
Centered on its constant going back to the circle as the archetype, The fact of constantly returning to the same point or situation may seem disconnected from the Acapulco chair stack which, on the other hand, evokes the concept of irreversibility. Yet, both shares a common thread in preserving the balance, albeit temporarily, juxtaposing incompatible elements while encompassing harmony, discomfort, contradiction, friction, tension and trust.
And that is exactly what stimulates our curiosity towards the things we see, namely the world we live in.

Hikari Odaka

Jose Dàvila
b. 1974, Guadalajara, Mexico. Currently lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Following a degree in architecture obtained from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), he became a self-taught artist whose practice spans sculpture, installation, painting, and photography.
More than 60 solo shows has been held at major museums such as Museum Haus Konstrukti (Switzerland), Dallas Contemporary (Texas), JUMEX Museum (Mexico City), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg), Museum Del Novecento (Florence), and his work has been shown on occasion of international art events such The 16th Lyon Biennial (2022), The 13th Havana Biennial (2019), The 10th Mercosur Biennial (2015).
His work has become part of prominent museum and private collections such as of MUAC (Mexico City), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid/Spain), Instituto Inhotim (Brumadinho, Brazil), Pérez Art Museum Miami (Miami, Florida), Buffalo AKG Art Museum (Buffalo, New York), San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio, Texas), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg), 、Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (Luxemburg), Taguchi Art Collection and others.
He was awarded the 2017 BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art's New Annual Artists' Award, and is a 2016 Honoree of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. In 2014 he was awarded with the 2014 EFG ArtNexus Latin America Art Award, and has been the recipient of support from the Andy Warhol Foundation, a Kunstwerke residency in Berlin, and the National Grant for young artists by the Mexican Arts Council (FONCA) in 2000. In 2022, Hatje Cantz published a major monograph illustrating the past twenty years of Dàvila’s practice.

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