Lombard-Freid Projects is pleased to present The drawing, the writing, the abstraction featuring a new body of works by Cuban artist Carlos Garaicoa. Best known internationally for conceptually challenging works whose imagery combines architecture, urbanism, politics and history, Garaicoa’s new project takes the viewer on a virtual walk through time and place on the streets of Havana.
Garaicoa’s recent large scale black and white photograph overlaid by thread drawings as well as his new video installation, make use of images of old Havana restaurant signage, department stores and their nostalgic logos embedded into granite sidewalks. These photographs are transformed by the artist interventions on the existing text by adding his commentaries towards the creation of new meanings.
Garaicoa’s uses the city as a laboratory to explore real and imagined histories. Following the lineage of 1970s text-based conceptual art (Joseph Kosuth, Bruce Nauman, Lawrence Weiner, John Baldessari) Garaicoa combines photography, sculpture and language into idiosyncratic works that defies territorial, social and political boundaries.
Through perspective and games of perception, the artist’s elaborate constructions of pins and color thread on the photographic surface can be seen as an ironic “public intervention”. He creates marks of insurgence on the facades of buildings.
Focusing on the commercial glories of the past, images of retail shops and restaurants depicted in their present decay are transformed into social and political puzzles. For Garaicoa, these department stores – ancient glories representative a “consumerist” past – were gathering points perceived as thermometers of a prosperous community.
In the delicate lines of the isometric thread drawings layered over the photographic surface, the building’s firmaments reemerge as a ghostly, fragile presence. Evincing a multidisciplinary approach in which photography, drawing and architecture intersect, Garaicoa preserves the memory of the urban fabric and at times engenders his own models of visionary architectural landscapes.
In the center of the gallery, video projections of the department stores and restaurant signage are directed onto a concrete floor emphasizing the spatial and temporal parameters of the project.
Garaicoa uses the city as a vehicle in order to address a number of provocative issues pertaining to: the role of architecture in the course of history; the failure of modernism to act as a catalyst for social change and the dismantling of twentieth-century utopias. His work steams from a Cuban context, yet his explorations are by no means limited to his country.