Mary Mary is delighted to present ‘deshacer’, ektor garcia’s first solo exhibition in the UK and at Mary Mary.
ektor garcia’s multifaceted and densely layered sculptural installations draw influence from handcraft traditions, often with a focus on Mexico and South America, to consider the way in which objects and materials define gender, cultural identities and societal roles. garcia’s accumulative practice encompasses textiles, ceramics, metalwork and found material presented across floor-based assemblages, sculptural groupings and sprawling environments that express personal histories, narrative threads and nomadic states.
Describing himself as ‘belonging somewhere else, somewhere liminal and never fixed, on the road and open to constant change’ garcia maintains an itinerant artistic practice, often working on a small scale with easily portable materials in order to stitch, weave, crochet and mould whilst travelling from place to place. His artistic processes, gestures and decisions are filtered through a perspective of dis-locatedness and an anxious, ambivalent identity politics resistant to the divisions of difference.
Spontaneous, intuitive, and frequently revisionist, garcia’s installations can be viewed as a personal psycho-geography crowded with references, emotions, and tensions. Heavily worked on and intricately crocheted leather and copper panels stitch together narratives of violence, marginalisation and erasure, as well as tenderness and compassion, expressed all the more viscerally through their close relationships to his personal and lived familial experience. Collections of glazed ceramics, found fragments and talismanic objects are visual metaphors for place, mental states, the body, and other people, and garcia interweaves these associations, connecting the past with the present, and the universal with the personal.
Tending towards lightness and permeability, garcia’s assemblages belie many days and hours of intensive labour and physical production. Perhaps masochistically – garcia treats his body as a tool and his hands like a machine configured to fervently and dextrously oppose the mass produced. As such, hands themselves appear as repeated motifs and are evidenced constantly in his work: from the expanses of crochet and hand-welded metal to the figurines imprinted with finger marks.
Acts of making and unmaking are at the centre of garcia’s present work. ‘deshacer’ translates from Spanish to ‘undo’ and seems to indicate a critical questioning of the artist’s recent production, and the proposal for an increasingly malleable and open-ended work that embraces spontaneity, improvisational gestures, and humour. It also references the thoughts of Louise Bourgeois, a presence within the exhibition, who considered art as a form of personal restoration and repair, and the act of making as doing, undoing, and redoing again. In this way, garcia is caught in a process of undoing here: ceramic chains, the simplest linking or stitching form appear in myriad configurations, alongside loose threads and unfurled spools indicating a release of tension and a desire to deconstruct the dense and intricate crochet work he has been producing for a number of years.
garcia’s work tends to be both inclusive and subjective, and express the political and personal, the multivocal and autobiographical at once. Journeying to remote regions of Mexico, garcia seeks out specific artisanal techniques that are routed in ancient Meso-American cultural traditions, as well as his own cultural genealogy, adopting and appropriating processes traditionally associated with ritual spaces or else domestic wares. His processes align closely with the fibre art movement of the 1960s and 1970s; the wire sculptures of Ruth Asawa, the leather masks of Nancy Grossman, and queer feminist textile artists such as Harmony Hammond. Likewise, garcia’s elaborate installations confront gendered notions of materials and trouble the traditional division between high and low culture. Above all, garcia’s work occupies its own temporal continuum, identifying only with itself and deeply embedded within an emotive and psychological symbolic lexicon.