Front and Back, and Side to Side

Raul Gonzalez

Exhibition: May 16 – Aug 18, 2019

“As artists we all begin to construct with what is given.”

—Joseph Kosuth (b. 1945, Toledo, OH)

“The specialness of art is…about the power to take ordinary things and by arranging them to produce a transcendence of their ordinariness.”

—Julian Schnabel (b. 1951, Brooklyn, NY)

Raul Gonzalez’s Front and Back, and Side to Side takes inspiration from the 1999 Edition Schellmann catalogue Wall Works. The artists featured in the catalogue, two of whom are quoted above, created a conceptual framework and specifications for editioned artworks which were sold and installed precisely to suit particular architectural spaces. Gonzalez applied the ideas put forth by Joseph Kosuth and Julian Schnabel to his own artistic practice in the development of this artwork.

When conceiving of this project, Gonzalez began by observing the practical aspects: architecture, light, and scale specific to the gallery space. Working in his studio and using photographs of the gallery as a reference, he used images of light and shadows on the Main Space walls as guides when placing duct tape onto the sheets of cardboard. During the process he listened to disco, hip hop, and house music and used the rhythms to dictate his gestures, movements, and mark making.

Gonzalez started using cardboard and duct tape out of necessity and availability in 2013, when in graduate school at UTSA. It was then that he started looking to duct tape’s use in American youth culture as well as cardboard’s use as a dance floor in 1980s breakdancing. His bright and sometimes acidic palette is inspired by both Hip hop and his ongoing construction series. The series explores the notion of backbreaking manual work and its relationship to immigration labor. The neon-colored tape is a departure from our understanding of duct tape as a simple gray. Despite his formal training in drawing and painting, Gonzalez used both tape and cardboard to compose a vibrant and dynamic grid calling into question non-traditional versus traditional methods of mark making. Using familiar materials in unique ways, he creates for the visitor a lively and immersive environment.

As part of Front and Back, and Side to Side, Gonzalez will further activate the exhibition space with a closing performance while challenging the traditional ideas of site-specific artwork, mark-making, abstraction, and dance. The performance will take place on the evening of Saturday, August 16, 2019.


Raul Gonzalez

Houston, Texas, USA

Born and raised in inner-city Houston, multi-dimensional artist Raul Gonzalez explores topics such as work, fatherhood, construction, labor, the working class, identity, and abstraction through the methods of painting, drawing, printmaking, performance, and dance. Now living in San Antonio with his wife and two daughters, he spends his days as a stay-at-home parent. He also operates and manages Werk House SA, a converted studio space which functions as an Airbnb short-term rental space and art gallery.
Gonzalez is often inspired by being a stay-at-home father, construction, challenging stereotypes, abstract expressionism, and finding beauty in chaos. His work ranges from detailed drawings of construction scenes on concrete to colorful abstract installations made of cardboard and duct tape, or drawings of his day-to-day life.
Gonzalez has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Houston, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has exhibited his artwork regionally and nationally, including Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, grayDUCK Gallery, Lawndale Art Center (Houston, TX), MACLA (San Jose, CA), the McNay Art Museum, Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin, TX), Miami University (Oxford, OH), and Queens University of Charlotte (NC), among others. He is the recipient of a NALAC San Antonio Artist Grant and a Surdna Foundation Grant through the Guadalupe Cultural Center. He completed a studio residency at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASSMoCA) and in 2018 he received a Sustainable Arts Foundation award grant.
Gonzalez’s work is included in private collections and public collections throughout the U.S. including the City of San Antonio, Mexic-Arte Museum, McNay Art Museum, National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque, NM), The National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), the University of Texas at San Antonio, and The Woodlands High School Art Trust.
His motto is Werk. Hustle. Sleep. Repeat.

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