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Esperanza Mayobre at Hallwalls

Part of Esperanza Mayobre's installation at Hallwalls.

Esperanza Mayobre at Hallwalls

In 1933 Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius fled the looming putsches of the Nazis for the US and, with fellow immigrant artist Joseph Albers, created Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina. Gropius considered architecture to be the crown of the arts—the discipline that everything led up to. It took everything below it into account because drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. could all be considered elements in a larger architectural framework.

In Nothing is About Nothing and Everything is About Too Much, artist Esperanza Mayobre’s built fixed sites of structural debris look like a scene out of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead after Gary Cooper’s flailing tantrum. On first impression her painstaking articulated constructions appear terminally collapsed…but what was the constructed state? There is nothing to suggest what having once been assembled, something was. Everything is back to front—in a way a commentary on how one might view life: in reverse, living only in the state of the present, viewing ahead the known past with the future behind—unknown. Mayobre’s Styrofoam maquettes recall residually the skeletal armatures of burned out factories, aircraft frames, haunted bones piles of the Holocaust. There is also something more specifically referential to the artist’s home city, Caracas, Venezuela, as in many coastal South American cities, the precarious slum dwellings of the hillside, the notorious favelas. Precisely because her little white plastic rectangles are ambiguous they can stand for innocence and horror—or at once both political and neutral. Like pickup sticks, each model-scale frame abuts the next in a collective slew of right angles.

The artist’s methodology also follows the cool rational left-brain articulation of the architect reacting to open space, from sketch of form to model to photograph to blueprint, even to laser-assisted final drawing. She describes each work as a stage in a journey of “personal landscape,” a kind of calligraphic long-hand of storytelling, scripting elements of discord, examining symptoms of fragility and decay. In the artist’s laser projection perspective drawings, grid-like overlays of matchstick-thin accumulations are crisply burned into the paper, letting the interstices of slivered space between breathe in a way that gives formal, conceptual stature to the modular disarray.

Through pictured dreams of ordered line, volume, space, and mass erected edifice, Mayobre uses her linear imagination to document, through drawing and assemblage, the psychological schemas of insecurity. Her show at Hallwalls is up through June 28.

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