taubert contemporary, Berlin
Striped and brightly colored Mexican sarapes (blankets) are traditionally made of wool or cotton, but artist Adrian Esparza uses the cheap acrylic ones that are prevalent today. Although still associated with Mexico, they are often manufactured in India or China, globalized products that, like many others, such as chopsticks and Hello Kitty, have a localized identity. By pulling on a single thread at one end of a sarape and then winding it around a network of partially-embedded, evenly-spaced nails, Esparza creates an abstraction of an image either from his imagination, or from a historical photograph or painting.
Consequently, Esparza deconstructs utilitarian objects and from them constructs intellectually-driven hard-edged abstractions. He explains, "The sarape pieces are about transformation--about a history that is used in order to construct a new form." For this exhibition, Esparza joins the individual artworks into a holistic, room-sized articulation. The visitor visually connects one work to the other, and then to him or herself, in Esparza’s gesture of connectivity.
Esparza acknowledges that his art is rooted in craft and in his cultural identity as Mexican-American resident of the US/Mexico border. "Growing up in El Paso, Texas, I had little exposure to historical art. My first exposure was through craft. Early memories include manipulating Popsicle sticks, carving balsa wood . . . seeing my mother sew…Craft laid the foundation for the formal issues that I would later learn in school." In his art, Esparza honors the ordinary and captures the hybridization and dynamism inherent to the U.S./Mexico border, where social and political networks cross national boundaries and ctranscend divisions.
Test: Kate Bonansinga, Director, School of Art, University of Cincinnati