THE WORK ON DISPLAY AT CHAUMONT-SUR-LOIRE IS A SPECIAL COMMISSION FROM THE CENTRE REGION (2014-2016)
As an artist who is always on the move, with no fixed studio, sharing his time between Mexico, the US and France, Gabriel Orozco turns his back on national or regional identification, instead drawing inspiration from the different places he lives in and travels through. He uses a whole host of different media and canvases to design and produce his work. Dabbling sometimes in photography and at others in sculpture, working one day on installation and on digital design the next – always experimenting with a wide variety of techniques and objects – this restless traveller defines himself as a wanderer, expressing the spirit of the times and places he experiences with immense subtlety.
Immersing himself in signs, tracks and prints, no matter where his gaze happens to fall, in a quest to soak up reflections of reality, Gabriel Orozco is “interested in the combination of different meanings and conflicting information”. He pays particular attention to the “mechanisms of movement and vibration”.
A fervent reader and admirer of Borgès, Orozco believes that “art stems from complex simplicity” and never tires of turning data upside down to create a series of new sensations – for seeing and revealing reality in a new light.
Clearly professing his freedom of invention, "his eyes and ears are always fully open to the present", in the euphoria of what is going on. What matters to him is “doing”, or poiein – “to make” in Greek, from whence our word "poetry" comes.
Fascinated by the antique wallpapers adorning the apartments once occupied by guests of Prince and Princess de Broglie (the château’s last private owners), rooms abandoned in 1938 only to be opened up once again in 2011 for use by contemporary artists, the great Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco spent long hours absorbing the palimpsest constituted by these ancient wall hangings while carrying out a special commission from the Centre Region. His entire oeuvre is chracterised by a search for the traces left by humankind and time.
The Fleurs fantômes (Phantom flowers) he presents at Chaumont-sur-Loire rekindle memories in abeyance, the invisible remnants of lives snuffed out, the intensity of memory of times long gone – which visitors capture a vague sense of without being able to identify the origin of their feelings, and which Gabriel Orozco’s canvases express.
The 30 works that line the Château’s guestrooms recapture the details and wounds of these antique wallpapers, reconstituted by the artist using a slow but unique process of spraying oil on canvas. The quavering images produced are a measure for the uneasiness that comes over visitors here, in the face of the dialogue between the works themselves and the ancient imperfect walls they set off. The artist brings to light traces and colours that previously escaped the eye, just as he reveals the emotions long held in abeyance in these rooms.
It is this subtle dialogue with the mystery of the surroundings and the diffuse memories they exude that the artist invites us to witness on this poetic stroll around the wall-walks on two of the château’s floors (west and south wings).
Presented in the Château, Orozco's work will be produced in two stages, with the first part unveiled in 2014 and the second in 2015.
Gabriel Orozco was born in 1962 in Jalapa, Veracruz in Mexico, where he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Arte Plasticas and then the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. His first personal exhibition was put on in 1983 and, from the early 1990s, he made a name for himself as one of the leading artists of his generation on the international stage. His work has been displayed in many prestigious museums including: Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, (1995 and 1998), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2000 and 2001), Serpentine Gallery, London (2004), Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (2004), Palacio de Cristal, Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, (2005), Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico (2006) and Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2006). He has taken part in the Venice Biennale (1993, 2003 and 2005), the Whitney Biennial (1997) and Documenta X (1997) and XI (2002).
His work has been the focus of a travelling retrospective from 2009 to 2011 at the MOMA (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Kunstmuseum (Basle) and Tate Modern (London).
His recent personal exhibitions include Asterisms, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin and Musée Guggenheim, New York (2012), Natural Motion, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2013) and Thinking in Circles, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2013). The Moderna Museet in Stockholm will be hosting an exhibition on him in 2014.
Gabriel Orozco is represented in France by the Galerie Chantal Crousel.