Jose Dávila | THE STONE THAT THE BUILDER REFUSED
Dessauer Straße | 28.4.–21.5.2017
OPENING HOURS: Thursday - Saturday, 11AM - 6 PM.
Jose Dávila works in a variety of media, including painting, prints, collage,
and sculpture. His conceptual preoccupations originate in the potential of
materials in dialogue with the space. Through appropriation,
reinterpretation, and other discursive re-enactments, Dávila’s work offers a
fertile ground to reflect on the ways that art history movements are digested
in peripheral cultures, questioning cycles of dissemination and utilizing the
political potential of materials and images to address forms of consumption.
‘Joint Effort’ is a series of spatial investigations which work in three
distinguishable systems. The first system is how they are created — within a
meticulously planned selection of materials such as marble slabs, glass or
mirror panels, stones, concrete or granite forms, I-beams, bolts, and ratchet
straps. The second system has to do with variables which are external to the
materials; this is the correlational equilibrium that the artist determines
for each sculpture, a physical interaction that weight cancels out pull, and
pull cancels out immobility. Within this system, inside this play, the
elements in the work are composed and balanced.
The third and more complicated system is abstract and sometimes obscure. It
comprises the symbolic nature of materials and the conceptual relations that
emerge from their juxtaposition: volcanic rocks resulting from lava
explosions and subsequent eons of cooling; Brazilian marble slabs coded with
exuberant patterns, which are literal slices of mountains destined to be
fancy kitchen countertops—a fate that Dávila’s interventions prevent; mirrors
reflecting the tension of industrial straps made out of synthetic fibers
capable of resisting the pull of merchandise traveling to the most
unnavigable regions. The title ‘Joint Effort’, which names most of the
sculptures in this series, is also part of this last conceptual system,
suggesting some sort of productivity or collaborative work with a moment of
communal intentionality leading to a tangible result. Oddly, that result is a
state of repose, a cancellation of forces that leads nowhere in the labor
sense that the title suggests, only to an aestheticized moment of
equilibrium, a turmoil of cancelling forces in which objects cease to exist
as independent entities for becoming a collective event.
For his first exhibition at KÖNIG GALERIE in Berlin, Dávila has created a
site-specific sculpture that reacts directly to the space. This strategy has
recently been used by the artist as a way of incorporating the
particularities of a space into the dynamics of sculpture. Though the
installation is titled ‘The Stone that the Builder Refused’, it is formally
related and belongs to the ‘Joint Effort’ series. It includes three large
rectangular granite slabs, leaning towards the viewer and supported by blue
ratchet straps conjoined by a central metal ring. The title of the piece
alludes to one of the New Testament’s most repeated phrases, ‘The stone that
the builder rejected has become the capstone’. Aside from the moral and
spiritual implications of this phrase, what becomes more relevant to Dávila
are the layers of mediation that the phrase has undergone over time.
Centuries later it was taken by Bob Marley, who took liberties in generating
his own particular version of the verse. This process of appropriating an
element that is culturally relevant or that has somehow become iconic, and
furthermore of subverting the deepest roots of its importance through
strategic substitutions of materials, is perhaps Dávila’s most significant
mode of operation.
As Jorge Luis Borges said, every translation creates a new thing. For ‘The
Stone that the Builder Refused’, Dávila has decided to play with the idea
that the central piece holding this sculptural form — what we might call the
capstone — is a metal ring. Unlike the perfection and strength that a
capstone should possess, the ring instead offers a universal form which is
empty inside, but still holds all the forces together.
Text: Humberto Moro
Jose Dávila was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1974. Dávila’s work is in the
permanent collection of numerous institutions including, the Centre Georges
Pompidou, Paris, FR; Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, US; Museo
Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), Mexico City, MX; Museo Nacional De
Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, SP; Inhotim, Brumadinho, BR; Albright-Knox Museum,
New York, US; Colección Jumex, Ciudad De México, MX; Pérez Art Museum Miami,
US; Zabludowicz Collection, Londdon, UK etc.
Dávila was the winner of the 2014 EFG ArtNexus Latin America Art Award, has
been the recipient of support from The Andy Warhol Foundation, a Kunstwerke
residency in Berlin, and the National Grant for young artists by the Mexican
Arts Council (FONCA). 2017 The BALTIC Centre for contemporary Art in
Gateshead, UK has announced Jose Dávila for the BALTIC Artists’ Award 2017.
Jose Dávila lives and works in Guadalajara, Mexico.