Currently on view at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, “Facts, contradictions, puzzles, an explanation and a few lies” by Mexican artist Octavio Abúndez is an investigation of utopias, dystopias, and idealised or dysfunctional societies, understood through the lens of Hollywood films, mass culture and literature.
Combining text and colour, the solo exhibition is an installation of 256 small paintings that form a collage loosely based on German artist Gerhard Richter’s colour charts that go back to 1966. Incorporated into the works of Octavio Abúndez, as the title of the show suggests, is a collection of truths and opinions, a mix of monologue and dialogue.
The artist’s research about utopias is woven together with sentences and ideas drawn from communities in the United States and California, spiritual or religious beliefs, ideas about the afterlife, literature, law, politics and cinema. The speculative nature of the work’s textual dimensions also appeal to mythological beings and a specific, unrealised utopic community in the artist’s mind that he refers to as “Thistopia”.
At first, the presentation looks simple enough but upon closer examination, its deliberate randomness makes for a slow, fairly demanding, meditative reading/viewing. The paintings invite the audience to take a moment off from their frantic lives and think deeply about both the state of their species and their world. Sentences include: “People are strange creatures; you can’t always convince them that safety is in their own best interest”, “Sometimes in my dreams I see the Earth as it was before” and “But that’s life, isn’t it?”
In some of the works, the artist employs pre-existing dialogues from films to further his critiques of futurity. For example: “If I were to break the news to anyone it would be you first, Mr. Bond, you know that, but it’s late, I’m tired and there’s so much left to do.” Abúndez uses these quotes and dystopic film lines to create imaginary conversations that mirror our Western society’s current trajectory. The pieces are not dogmatic, however, as they are textured with humor, hopefulness, cynicism and melancholy all at once.
Neo / Coffee Shop Manager / George / Owen Grady / Julius Lowenthal / The White Widow / Quentin / Worth / Quentin / Worth / Pinbacker / Tic’Tic / Fifi / John Connor / Kuato / Joseph Lynch / Johnny Mnemonic © Octavio Abúndez / Kohn Gallery
In the second gallery space, Abúndez will display “Chronic Complicatedness”, a series of sculptures that reference Albert Camus’ famous novel The Myth of Sisyphus. Interrogating fundamental questions about human nature, modernity and progress, each work demonstrates a struggle of opposing forces that must be resolved or forever stalled in brutal conflict.
Octavio Abúndez (b. 1981) lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico. Abúndez has been widely exhibited in Mexico, The United States and has presented projects and residencies in Europe. His exhibitions include solo and group shows at CURRO Gallery, Mexico; Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Mexico; MARSO Gallery; Mexico; Museo Raúl Anguiano, Mexico; Giorgio Cini Fondazione, Italy; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, UT; ArtCenter/South Florida, Miami FL; Present Co, Brooklyn, NY; Páramo Gallery, Mexico; MURA, Los Angeles, CA; Grange Gardens in Bermondsey, Galerie 8, London, UK; Morono Kiang Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Abúndez has exhibited at the following art fairs: ARCO; Untitled Art; Artissima; Zona MACO; Art Los Angeles Contemporary; Nada Art Fair; Art Basel Miami Beach; The Armory Show, New York. In February 2018, Abundez participated in a residency in Madrid with Mala Fama Estudios.
Judge Griffin / Sheriff Chris Mannix / Joshua / Francis / Lord Farquaad / Spider / Evey / Siegfried Rieber / Jeffrey Goines / Zac Hobson / Pumpkin / Agent Elkin / Scott Favor / Eli / Searle / Col. John Henry Patterson © Octavio Abúndez / Kohn Gallery