día a día / day by day
November 2013 – January 2014
The 9.99 Gallery
Guatemala City, Guatemala
The artist’s day by day develops in the studio, a space that serves as a laboratory of ideas. Just as the everyday governs most people’s lives—the teacher teaches every day or the doctor sees patients week after week—it also tends to provide a daily routine for the artist, allowing a pattern of reflection and research that leads to the creation of works of art based on his observation of the political, social, and cultural life of a city or country.
Day by Day is the fourth exhibition The 9.99 presents this year, bringing together six international artists: Patrick Hamilton and Sebastián Preece (Chile), Andrea Aragón, Darío Escobar and Aníbal López (A1-53167) (Guatemala) and Nery Gabriel Lemus (United States), all artists whose work tends to reflect the everyday of our lives.
Working in Santiago, Chile, Hamilton and Preece represent the new generation of artists from this South American country; both use everyday objects to map aspects of the city where they live. Hamilton’s elegant minimalist geometric forms made with sharp cutting razor wire, Composición con diamantes (Composition with diamonds, 2011), and pieces created with tools, Serrucho (Hand saw, 2013), speak of the social insecurity that forms in a country where recent economic wealth has not been distributed evenly. The decay of infrastructure in certain city neighborhoods is present in Volumen XIV (Volume XIV) and Volumen XVI (Volume XVI, both 2008) by Preece. The truncated history of everyday life is buried in the ruins that survive time, in the books that daily disintegrate into dust.
A daily routine involves facilitating the existence of human beings, but the work of Guatemalans Andrea Aragón, Darío Escobar and Aníbal López (A1 -53 167) evidence otherwise. Escobar has a group of paintings, which at first glance shows an abstract composition on a supposedly perfect sheet of white paper; under closer scrutiny one can see that the artist has torn the sheet in two. Dibujo interrumpido No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 (Interrupted drawing No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, all 2013) represent a fractured society that tries to remedy injustices and historical errors with cosmetic fixes, but these breaks remain always there, even if difficult to see with the naked eye. The poignant photographs of Aragón, capture reality as it is, and it is often tough. Images De la serie “antipostales” (From the series “antipostcards,” 2001) and De la serie “Ghetto” (From the series “Ghetto,” 2010) sadly delve into what everyday life can be for people who live in a dilapidated house, with scruffy furniture and graffiti on the walls, or in those terrible and impersonal modern buildings that instead of making life more enjoyable make it an earthly hell. Listón de plástico negro de 250 mts. de largo x 4 mts. de ancho colgado sobre el puente del Incienso (Black plastic strip of 250 meters. long x 4 mts. wide hanging over the Incienso Bridge, 2003) by López (A1 -53 167) captures for posterity the grief that people express when the constitutional laws of the country are broken. The documentation of this action adds to the rich artistic and historical file that the artist has been building since the beginning of his career.
Nery Gabriel Lemus is a foreigner who should not be. The son of Guatemalan immigrants living in the United States, Lemus has developed his career in Los Angeles, California, which focuses on many of the tensions that routinely affect people in his condition. His foreign status gives him an objective distance that makes his observations not only very keen but are also permeated by nostalgia about what is not known but is sensed. De Guatemala a guatepeor (From Guatebad to guateworst, 2013) Lemus resists stigmatizing a country that has suffered daily violence while improvement and progress are also being achieved.
In Day by Day, artists seem to agree that not all is bad, nor all good, and that this constantly changing, precarious balance upholds the survival of mankind and is one in which the artist finds inspiration for his creative activities.
-Alma Ruiz F.