“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.