Critics’ Picks

View of “El instinto olvidado,” 2013. Foreground: Francisco Tropa, Quad, 2008. Background: William Anastasi, untitled, 2010.

Mexico City

“El instinto olvidado”

Gral. F. Ramirez 5 Daniel Garza, Del. Miguel Hidalgo
January 19–March 2

El instinto olvidado” (The Forgotten Instinct) is an exhibition co-organized by the Parisian dealer Jocelyn Wolff and LABOR’s Pamela Echeverría. For the first part of the show, Wolff has installed a series of works in Mexico City, and this June, Echeverría will install a show at Wolff’s gallery. The current gathering is powerful and bold, tracing delicate and suggestive links between the work of five artists from different nations and generations: William Anastasi, Guillaume Leblon, Hans Schabus, Francisco Tropa, and Franz Erhard Walther. The show most successfully mines the relationship between Tropa’s sculptural installation, Quad, 2008, and Anastasi’s four works from the ongoing “Subway Drawings” series, which he began in the 1960s.

Anastasi, an underrecognized but key New York–based Conceptual artist, renders two mono- and bichromatic works, which, on a small scale, register the motion of the artist’s body as he sits on the subway with his back straight and slightly away from the seat. Each drawing is made on sketchpad paper: Anastasi holds the pad in one hand while in the other he holds a pencil, which mirrors the movement of the train as expressed in his body. At the next station, he puts the pencil in the other hand. His drawings turn the journey’s motion into phenomenological traces, which taps into the basic and unconscious vitality that underlies the creative act.

In a manner no less significant, Francisco Tropa’s work explores the body’s relationship to time and the unpredictability of fragility. Quad features a black platform on which four concrete cubes have been placed amid tiny grains of golden sand. The piece was produced in Mexico City: Wolff followed specific instructions from the artist to rotate each cube several times and to sprinkle sand over them with each movement so that a trace could be recorded. The suggestion of motion is embedded in the work through these marks—they are reflexive registers that prompt the viewer to ponder his or her own existence in transit.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.