signs and symbols is pleased to present A continued gesture towards us, a site-specific performance and exhibition by artist Tony Orrico. Translating movement practice into visual form, Orrico’s solo exhibition explores the boundaries of mark-making, choreography and improvisation, yielding performative drawings and multi-dimensional sculptural work. Traversing disciplinary boundaries, durational action and the manipulation of graphite, Orrico defies the conventional definition of drawing as a two-dimensional work on paper by laying bare the translational force of bodily movement in relation to gesture -- making time and space a medium as much as graphite or substrate.
For his solo exhibition at signs and symbols, Orrico has been invited for a mini residency, in which he will first transform the gallery space into an artist studio for two weeks, completely immersing himself in process to create work in-situ. Building upon previous methodologies marrying the preparatory perimeters of choreography and the haptic commitment of the body as employed in his Penwald series of continuous, two-handed drawings, for this exhibition the artist will extend his exploration of gesture towards the compassionate and the collective — towards an us at once spectatorial and societal. Taking as starting point contemporary media images depicting the gestures of individuals in the throws of heightened emotional experience; --- in peril, facing persecution, mourning a loss, revolting, resisting a force — Orrico composes the gestures which will form the basis of each physically arduous composition, not through appropriation or citation but through supplementation and assistance. He states, “rather than sampling the positioning of their hands… I use my hands to frame theirs, tending to the perceived tension in their hands, figuratively, conjuring up movements that signal support.” Sequences of such counter-gestures are choreographically looped, dynamically driving the exhaustive movement of mark-making, as composition and line accrue through repeated action.
Rope, reclaimed wood, foam, glue and plaster: in addition to Orrico’s graphite-based siteresponsive traces of bodily presence through gesture and counter-gesture, a sculptural cacophony of provisional low-tech forms join his performed works-on-paper in this exhibition. Replicating in sculptural language the enframing and assistive operation of the countergesture, Orrico generates objects that are spontaneously built to support, suspend, present, and intervene with his drawings, which will be presented on sheaths of paper-mounted aluminum that provide a smooth, dermis-like wrap for the structure below. Reflecting the contingent circumstance of the body in space, each of these quickly constructed objects of chance aim towards a purposeful composition: to land gestures at their ideal coordinates in relation to the ground, a table or wall.
Exploring the various relationships between movement and mark-making, Orrico combines his experience as a dancer and visual artist to escape the flat surface and explore an occupation of real or dimensional space, in an exchange of responses between performance and material. For Orrico, each performed object acts as an invitation to pause and observe, within the dense coverage of lines, an aspect of our humanity; to evoke a sense of responsibility and examine where quiet aversions may linger inside our personal availability. Although the final works for the exhibition will be created as performances prior to and during the opening reception, the exhibition highlights the artist’s commitment to embodiment, as Martin Heidegger would suggest, a mode of being in the world as being with. Orrico concludes, “viewers will be welcomed to stand or sit inside the vantage point that piloted the action and sense the centrifuge. The phenomenology of a drawing shifts when it spatially envelops the body and virtual perspective becomes actual perspective” — when vision becomes experience.
tony orrico’s work has reached mass circulation for its ingenuity within the vernacular of performance and conceptual drawing. A Chicago native, Orrico studied Dance Theatre at Illinois State University, and received his MFA in Choreography at the University of Iowa. As a visual artist, he is interested in how physical impulses manifest into visible forms. His performances often enter territories of infinite reflective and rotational symmetry. He uses his own somatic research, Suspension Practice, as point of entry into his visual work. Orrico has performed/exhibited his work across the US and internationally in Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. His visual work is in the permanent collections of The National Academy of Sciences (Washington DC) and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC, Mexico City) as well as prominent private collections such as Grazyna Kulczyk, Kablanc/Fundación Otazu and Bergmeier/Kunstsaele, among others. He has presented at the CCCB, Centre Pompidou-Metz, The New Museum, and Poptech 2011: The World Rebalancing. As a former member of Trisha Brown Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts, Orrico has graced such staged as the Sydney Opera House, Teatro La Fenice, New York State Theater, and Theatre du PalaisRoyal.