Critics’ Picks

View of “Gabriel Orozco,” 2012. Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.

View of “Gabriel Orozco,” 2012. Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris.


Gabriel Orozco

Galerie Chantal Crousel
10 rue Charlot
September 7–October 20, 2012

Don’t search for the word roiseaux in the French dictionary—you won’t find it. It is a hybrid of “roseau” (reed) and “oiseaux” (birds), which Gabriel Orozco invented as the title of a series of new sculptures now on view at Chantal Crousel. It describes exactly what the works are: bamboo reeds whose leaves have been replaced by feathers of birds (partridge, pheasant, duck, and goose). Twisted around themselves and hung from the ceiling with invisible nylon threads, free to float on the air currents like clouds, the plumed reeds resemble fanciful interpretations of Alexander Calder’s mobiles—organic and bricolés in a way typical of this Mexican artist’s poetics. All around, in eleven small photographic diptychs, the way Orozco sees reality is in full view: his attention to affinities between natural and artificial forms; his feel for the incongruous and poetic details of daily life; his obsession with circular motifs as a manifestation of an anti-Cartesian logic, an alternative to the line and the right angle.

For his concurrent solo exhibition at Marian Goodman, the principal piece is the imposing Shade Between Rings of Air, 2003, the full-scale replica in wood of a roof canopy designed by Carlo Scarpa in 1952 for the gardens of the Venice Biennale. Produced by Orozco on the occasion of the 2003 Biennale, in homage to the circular forms that Scarpa conceived and placed not far from the original, the sculpture was subsequently shown in various exhibitions of Orozco’s work throughout the world. In Paris it constitutes the heart of a series of works dominated by the circle and by rotation. Other pieces include the terra-cotta shapes from the 2012 “Orthocenters” series (additional pieces from this series are exhibited at Crousel), which was created as a result of circular gestures of the hand over masses of clay, and the surprising video Solvitur Boomerando, 2012. In the latter, Orozco stands at the edge of the circular swimming pool at his Mexican house (a small building whose shape is inspired by a eighteenth-century Indian astronomic observatory), and throws and catches a boomerang with surprising skill, delineating, precisely, those “rings of air.”

This exhibition is also on view at Marian Goodman Gallery, 79, rue du Temple, until October 20.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.