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Darío Escobar. General view of Singular, Plural, 2012.

Solo Show
Darío Escobar

ArtNexus #85 - Arte en Colombia #131
Jun - Aug 2012

1600 Gallery

Ana Fernández

Darío Escobar’s exhibition at SCAD Atlanta’s 1600 Gallery, Singular Plural, gathers for the first time in this city nine works created by the artist between 2005 and 2010. Here, Escobar recontextualizes archetypal objects from the world of sports such as baseball bats, soccer balls, skateboards, galvanized tires from bicycle wheels, and puts them to use as art materials, subjected to a reconceptualization that goes from utility and use to aesthetic contemplation.

As a whole, these works denote the way in which contemporary art tends increasingly to incorporate the internationalized expressions of contemporary culture. Escobar takes advantage in his work of the global transcultural character of the sports world. Through the mass-media and commerce, the sports industry has overtaken national borders and created an international public that recognizes itself both in traditional sports such as baseball and soccer, and in newly-minted ones, better known as extreme sports. The acceptance and world-wide popularity of these sports offers a platform of common cultural signs from which to communicate universally with a vast, diverse public—a significant platform that Escobar uses effectively in this show.

Morphologically, these works benefit from the lustrous aesthetic that characterizes industrial surfaces. They are carefully manufactured and finished, satisfying the formal demands of refinement and sophistication that are current in contemporary artistic production.

Methodologically, they reveal that Escobar’s creative process is based in this case in one single procedure. The artist intervenes, alters the appropriated objects, and reassembles them in an elliptical way in order to moderate or partially neutralize the original meaning they possess in their primary contexts. With this, he creates an expressive tension between their displaced functional singularity and their later transformation into elements of a work of art as totality, rendered intrinsically plural through the very integrative process from which it results.

Escobar created Dawn in 2009 using wooden baseball bats. Repeated as modules, the bats outline the perfect geometry of a rectangle on the wall. A negative space is projected into the rectangle, breaking its perimeter in order to expand the area of the work towards an infinite beyond. Some of the bats have been cut along the profile of a triangular shape and their remains are piled up on the floor as evidences of a singularity that was but is no longer. The shiny gold hue along with a deep black suggest the dawn light known to photographers as “the lovely light.” In these abstract allusions to landscape and to natural elements, like Black Snake II from 2005 (based mostly on galvanized rubber bicycle tires), Escobar makes it possible for viewers to experience an irresistible attraction towards his work. The manifest ambiguity of these proposals acts as a hook.

Broken Cycle, from 2009, also contains a play between positive and negative space. The wheel’s circle is interrupted, and with that, vacuum becomes discontinuity. One of its quarters has been displaced from the perimeter. Liberated. And it becomes a singular line drawing. The simplicity and economy of resources in this work are nevertheless highly expressive. Two basic shapes, a rectangle divided into four quadrants in the background, and a circle as the protagonist motif, speak of the exact mathematics of these geometric forms and of the way in which quarters make and unmake the unit. This work synthesizes also an abstract-geometric artistic tradition that explores the concise, brief but exhaustive character of expression.

Special mention is due to Escobar’s three collages made with book pages. In Silent Drawings, from 2010, Escobar creates geometric abstractions filled with a lyrical sensibility based on chromatic relationships between the original white of the paper and the yellowing that results from its aging. The printed text on the other side of the pages is visible, but the communicative strength of the written word has been nullified. Words become traces, losses, absences in these drawings. In contrast, their support, the paper sheet, is freed from all functionality and becomes an expressive sign through its very materiality.

Singular Plural once again proves that Darío Escobar has created a body of work entirely of his own, and with it a voice that is sensitive to the expressions of today’s international culture.

After Atlanta, the show will travel to SCAD Savannah, Georgia, and SCAD Hong Kong, China.




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