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FROM THIS EPISODE

When Minimalist artists of the 1960's questioned every accepted tenet of visual art, they turned to industrial materials, threw away the pedestal, involved the body in direct and indirect ways. You might think about that while looking at the current exhibition of art by Gabriel Kuri at Regen Projects through June 28. For the artist has both used and lovingly abused the tenets of the earlier art movement.

 

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"self-portrait as basic symmetrical distribution loop," 2014
Insulating roll, string, didactic cardboard, coins
39.37 x 39.37 x 9.84 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

Hanging on the walls are half a dozen works made of silvery sheets bent into shape by thin white strings. They are minimal/post-minimal at first glance but the pieces are made from soft metallic insulation and the seriousness of the initial impact is offset by the odd bits attached to each: plastic bottles filled with clear or yellowish liquids, a pair of door stops, enlarged reproductions of American coins. Each choice is specific and charged with meaning. Nothing is left to chance. 

 

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"self-portrait as chart with fixed convexity and pending concavity," 2014
Insulating roll, string, wooden doorstop, conch shell
45.87 x 39.37 x 7 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

This is supported by quirky titles such as self-portrait as chart with fixed convexity and pending concavity. This refers to the outward bend of the silver insulation from which depends a pink conch shell displaying its markedly inward turn. Is it a chart of his physical, emotional and intimate selves, or a sly attack on the ways that meaning and identity are constructed? Is the sexual implication to be taken seriously or as a caprice? With each piece, the questions mount but that does not make the show any less enjoyable.

 

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"credit becomes retail" 2014
Powder coated steel, padding blankets
24 7/8 x 265 1/2 x 49 1/4 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

The Mexican artist, in his forties, educated there and at Goldsmiths College of Art in London, has recently moved to LA after a decade in Brussels. All the pieces in this show were made here from materials found here though the vocabulary of ideas evident in past work remains consistent.

 

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"stop start exponential growth 03," 2014
Volcanic rock, whitewater river boulder, Baja Cresta boulder, inflated condoms
18.5 x 17.5 x 86.22 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

Going back to the references to minimalism, the show includes five pieces from a series titled stop start exponential growth. Again, the title seems dry, almost systems oriented, but for the fact that the rocks on the floor are volcanic, lined up in ways that gently hold in place creamy inflated condoms. Their fragility — they look like pearlescent balloons — as they are held between the rough rocks sparks thoughts of population explosion, overburdened eco-systems, the tenuousness of existence. Kuri is most successful with such deft layering of potential interpretations.

 

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"1/1 exponential growth, 1/3" 2014
Found composite stone disc, painted fiberglass, resin figure
10 x 25 x 25 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

 

The exhibition's singular triumph is a circular medallion of composite stone on the floor in the center of the gallery. It is embossed, even looks like the seal of some ancient official structure but the embossed center is covered by a black resin lozenge created by Kuri that obscures whatever meaning might have been legible. Instead, it dictates mystery as its mystery. 

For such works, this is an exhibition that rewards prolonged viewing and, even better, prolonged thinking. For more information, go to regenprojects.com.


Banner image: Kuri's credit becomes retail, 2014; powder coated steel, padding blankets; 24 7/8 x 265 1/2 x 49 1/4 inches; courtesy of the artist and Regen Projects, Los Angeles

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