Gabriel de la Mora, born in 1978 in Mexico City where he currently lives and works, is best known for constructing visual works from found, discarded, and obsolete objects. In an obsessive process of collecting and fragmenting materials - eggshells, shoe soles, speaker screens, feathers - the Mexican artist creates seemingly minimal and often monochrome-looking surfaces that belie great technical complexity, conceptual rigor, and embedded information. De la Mora’s works are included in the permanent collections of Albright-Knox Art Gallery (New York, USA), El Museo del Barrio (New York, USA) Fundación JUMEX (Mexico City, Mexico), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), (Los Angeles, USA) et Perez Art Museum Miami Collection (Miami, USA), to name a few.
Gabriel de la Mora’s serial work constitutes a structure of mirror images, echoes and repetitions. Insofar as previous series like Inscripciones sonoras sobre tela (bocinas) [Acoustic Inscriptions on Fabric (Speakers)], El peso del pensamiento (suelas de zapato) [The Weight of Thought (Shoe Soles)], CaCO3 (cascarón de huevo) [CaCO3 (Eggshell)], and Neornithes (plumas) [Neornithes (Feathers)] shift from objects to monochromes and then to graphic inscriptions or images, his exploration of materials and their energetic and/or symbolic charges has set up a constructivist aesthetics that puts unseen presences and patterns into circulation. Reprising the aesthetic sense of the term “echo” from Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, in which the philosopher analyzes “generality as generality of the particular and repetition as universality of the singular,” Gabriel de la Mora charts a movement toward the relationship between the serialization of the monochrome in relation to the particularity of materials and a phantasmagoria of echoing forms, sounds and gestural inscriptions. The selection of works included in this show presents diagrams of mirrored diptychs or monochromatic sequences in which the circle as a found phenomenon becomes a leitmotiv, whether as a paradoxical repetition of the particular with a universal pretension, or as a generality of the particular.
A constant feature of De la Mora’s practice is his use of specific objects and readymades in monochromatic organizations that strike up dialogues with the history of modern painting, conceptual art and the minimalism of the 1960s. The chain of symbolic linkages, arranged by opposition or complementarity, between inscriptions that visualize sound, fragments of eggshell, and the movements impressed on the worn-out sole of a shoe act like musical scores for variations on similar forms that are expressed paradoxically in difference. Such a repetition of combinations unleashes sequences of resonances, a sort of amorphous continuum that moves from one physical medium to another, from a series of found and manipulated objects to other surfaces, whether these be the fabric of an old speaker on which sounds reproduce an indexical form, or guineafowl feathers that express circular patterns while simultaneously making it possible to speculate about the relationship between genetic determinants and the conditions under which species evolve. The conjunction of these series through a relation of resemblance ultimately expresses an invariant in Gabriel de la Mora’s work: the singular appearance of the unseen.
This phenomenology of hidden presences and phenomena reflects a paradox in which the invisible is revealed in the singular; that is, in repetition and difference against universal generality. In artistic terms, this aesthetics gives way to an analytic approach that examines the modern constructivist tradition and minimalist literality, inverting their premises to produce a model of visualization in which the monochrome reveals latencies and images of the invisible that could indeed be echoes of a deeper vibration, a repetition within the singularity that animates it.1 With this selection of four series of works that dialogue with the long constructivist tradition of the monochrome, Gabriel de la Mora forays into the aesthetic experience of repetition and difference, monochrome and image, object and visual sound. All repetition is experienced not in equivalence but in difference, as for example the act of assembling a homogeneous surface using fragments of eggshell, in a destruction whose fragmentary condition reflects the paradox of the unrepeatable repetition; that is, the systematic elaboration of a geometrical and monochromatic form, apparently universal and yet unique, auratic. Gabriel de la Mora’s neoconstructivist aesthetics tends to rehabilitate the metaphysical notion of constant transformation. Under this philosophical umbrella, the only eternal is the continuous flow of the world, in an amorphous chain of echoes in resonance. These premises also «echo» in Deleuze’s argument that repetition “puts law into question, it denounces its nominal or general character in favour of a more profound and artistic reality.”
A circle cannot be seen as a general, but only as a particular. Just like an echo, difference enables resemblance —but in variation, never as a substitute or a law. For the same reason, rather than a system of general equivalences of the form quid pro quo, the exchanges in repetition underwrite an organic system of differences between particulars. A symbol of something particular, the impression on the sole of a shoe or a piece of fabric, can never be replaced by something else. An echo is therefore a relation of resonances or repetitions but not substitutions: a chain of singularities, mirror images and resemblances without equivalence. The echo is a singularity, the ghost of a sound, or in visual terms the image of an object. According to Deleuze, “If repetition exists, it expresses at once a singularity opposed to the general, a universality opposed to the particular, a distinctive opposed to the ordinary, an instantaneity opposed to variation and an eternity opposed to permanence.”
A repetitious resource in the history of art, the monochrome becomes an expression of the insistent pretension to universality, an eternity without permanence, particulars whose repetition in the history of art becomes an echo. It is, then, a ghostly repetition of difference, a monochrome turned into an image, the estrangement that is produced when a universal becomes particular.
The works of Gabriel de la Mora reinscribe the passage of time in a stunning image, a latency that poses for the instant when a totality appears outside in its attempt at permanence, a concatenation of echoes on a continuum of repetitions in permanent difference.
Essay by Willy Kaultz