Abraham Cruzvillegas is renowned for his use of found materials and his ability to repurpose, reassign, and redefine popular perception of those objects. In a newly christened exhibit, "Autodestrucción 1" up at the Regen Projects Gallery in West Hollywood, Cruzvillegas stays true to his forum of expression and consistent continuity.
Over the past two decades, Cruzvillegas has quickly ascended the art world food-chain. He was just named the recipient of the esteemed Yanghyun Prize and he will be quite busy for the following year with shows lined up in Paris, London and Mexico. As he rises in success in the ever-elite art society, esssentially it his fundamental understanding of objects and our relationship with them that has put Cruzvillegas on the map.
He has a theory on dealing with those relationships, which might explain his success; "all objects are alive when I use objects in my work. That's my approach. I think things have an opinion, and they either ask you things or they don't," he told KPCC last week
"I think using a space as a studio is important, but I also use that space as a workshop, like for making meetings with people to talk about the history of the place, the city, the house, the economy, whatever I could learn about that place," Cruzvillegas said, referring to his process of integrating his geographic location at the time of construction for his artwork and its consequential relationship on the creations themselves.
Location is utterly essential to the Mexican artist, whether it be Paris or Korea - places Cruzvillegas has exhibited in the past few years - or the metaphorical location of his muse. Much of his work explores the relationship between objects and people and ultimately the historical and social impact of those relationships especially pertaining to their location.
"There are some objects that are found here in L.A.," Heather Harmon, the director of the gallery, explained, "and then there are also other objects that will come from Mexico City. So it will be a combination of both. Objects that he has sent here and then objects we've gathered prior to his arrival." All of which were assembled for the predominantly sculptural show on the premises of the gallery.
The artist, who arrived just last week to Los Angeles, came "with his hands empty," allowing the gallery to support the gathering of materials for "Autodestrucción 1".
"I'm using the gallery as a studio, properly with the help of the staff here of the gallery," he continued. The gallery staff, along with Cruzvillegas, improvised a seemingly lackadaisical installation process; they had fun and listened to music related to the show.
"So I've been trying to relate my own experience, 'my own baggage,' let's say, with the locals wherever I am. So trying to prove again that everything can fit together," the artist said.
The show at Regen Projects, which opened November 3rd, seems to mainline Cruzvillegas' theory.
"Autoconstrucción", which translates to self-construction, is a previous project of Cruzvillegas that quite blatantly relates to the current exhibit "Autodestrucción 1", translating to mean self-destruction. "Autoconstrucción" was a "pretty expanisve project," Harmon clarified. "[It] included everything from a film, to collaborative work, to works that have been theatrically staged. It's had many different iterations, and also provides the armature on which much of [Cruzvillegas'] work is based."
Harmon explained that "Autoconstrucción" is largely based on the town Ajusco, where the artist grew up in Mexico. The town is the narrative link to "Autodestrucción 1", whose protagonist also originates from Ajusco only to leave for Europe and California, eventually returning home in the conclusion.
There are multiple sculpture pieces in the show, all are inspired by a story Cruzvillas wrote, which follows Miguel Prado, a trumpet player on a journey through self-destruction. In explaining his protagonistic choice, Cruzvillegas said, "I wrote the story of 'El Rebaje', thinking that the trumpet was very important in [Prado's] life because the trumpet was making decisions as well, not only himself."
Images, dress and music from the Carlifornia Zoot Suiters, Parisian Zazou and Pachuco all influenced the artist in terms of the sequential cultural identities. Prado experiences and absorbs these movements, but feels displaced when the dress of one place is no longer relatable to another city or when a movement is no longer necessary.
At Regen Projects, Prado becomes explorational fiction and therefore is repurposed himself in meat, fabric, rods, rebar, chains and feathers. The industrial objects pay an homage to both Cruzvillegas' and the fictional Prado's past, which maintains the link to previous exhitions.
"This will be the first in a series of exhibitions," Cruzvillegas continued, "using this concept of garments or clothes or ways of wearing garments as a political statement...So I'm trying to make a line of development of ideas, but not as a narrative thing. They will be independent projects, groups of works, and also independent sculptures or drawings, and things I want to make. But, trying to make everything make sense together as a whole."
What did Prado's trumpet ask Cruzvillegas for "Autodestrucción 1"? Find the answer at Regen Projects through December 22nd.