Left: José Dávila; right: Jorge Méndez Blake. Courtesy Galería OMR and the artists
An architectural awareness and a flair for intrigue unite the two Mexican artists showcased by Galería OMR at this year’s Art Basel: Jose Dávila and Jorge Méndez Blake. Both artists studied architecture before transferring their understanding of space and structure to visual art. The Basel booth—which features Dávila during the first two days, then Méndez Blake thereafter—will present a striking occupation of space through stories, structures, and stones.
Dávila’s work experiments with suspension. His sculptures teeter on the edge of equilibrium, with sheets of glass held in place by colorful braces. Ahead of this year’s fair, he described his process to Artsy as “a negotiation between forces and the physical aspect of the materials—height, weight, and position in space.”
“Experimentation is a natural response to the process of sculpture-making,” Dávila continued. “I don’t just try to construct set ideas, I start working with certain materials and a certain notion of where I want to go, but often the results are unplanned.” Dávila communicates sculpture’s inherent potential. In one of his new Joint Effort works, two rocks weigh down an orange strap, which, wrapped around a transparent rectangle, forms a balancing triangle. Concrete and stone are enduring solids, while the glass that rests upon them could shatter.
Jorge Méndez Blake’s work takes up the idea of translation as much as experimentation. His translation of narrative to fine art makes one think of Belgian conceptualist Marcel Broodthaers’s conversion of avant-garde text to visual concepts. “I approach art as someone who is trying to write, but without writing,” Méndez Blake told Artsy. “I make two- and three-dimensional objects that occupy the space between disciplines, where the margins of literature, art, and architecture overlap.”
Works on display include both conceptual sculpture—a model of a typewriter on a desk, a book on a plinth—and drawings with origins somewhere in literature. Exploration Library. Library Structure (2015) shows a mysterious library in the middle of a jungle, while the large-scale Bartlebooth Monument (2011) consists of detailed drawings of littoral settings arranged in a grid that supposedly involve an unsolved puzzle from a novel by French experimental author Georges Perec.
Where Dávila’s sculptures are suspenseful—rocks that may roll off their plinths, a piece of Perspex that could fall at any moment—Méndez Blake conjures just enough sense of intrigue to lead the viewer into architectures of the imagination.
Visit Galería OMR at Art Basel 2015, Galleries, Booth R19, June 18–21, 2015