Rubber T Canyon: The Transcendence of the End.
April 24-May 30, 2015
Opening: April 23, 6-8pm
Sixth floor, 33 Des Voeux
Road Central, Hong Kong
Delicately transposed, it's the displaced materiality in Rubber T Canyon's works that spurs their contemporary resonance. Millimeter paper, mattress frames, doormats-everyday, commonplace elements are flushed of everyday context and repurposed to create oeuvres that titter on the edge of artifice. 'The Transcendence of the End' at Elvis_Picasso Gallery marks Rubber T Canyon's first solo show in Hong Kong and presents a new series of works as well as two installations that introduce how his practice evolves from Duchamp's readymade, whilst simultaneously devolving from it. The works or situations proposed are not mere found objects but rather reconfigured and repurposed, composed and re-choreographed materials that have been carefully assembled or moulded to mount a delicate ballet of shapes, colour and form.
The works appear at first sight as distant light blue and white abstractions. Upon closer inspection, however, they are revealed to be the product of the disciplined millimeter-by-millimeter act of scratching the layers of 'fish and chip' wrappings. Compulsive and rigorous, yet delicate and detailed, the series recalls the title of the exhibition through the repetitive motion and quiet monotony associated with the task of threading a surface. Similarly the Priego de Còrdoba paintings, which appear as glistening wall-hung golden beacons, are in actuality discarded blocks of street side advertisements that have been repeatedly coated in layers and layers of faded spray paint. Rubber T Canyon thus plays with repetitive processes but also invites us to look "again" by reworking materials in ways that unsuspectingly flesh out their aesthetic possibilities.
Permeating Rubber T Canyon's work is also a concern with displacement and effect; how by virtue of presentation, one's interaction with an object can be changed completely. Safecover - Yellow, for example, a found yellow safety cover coated by Rubber T Canyon, conveys how alteration of context tests the limits of objecthood. Similarly, the Paillasson works appear at first sight as sodden and textured brown doormats, yet, when transposed onto the wall and encased in a metal frame, the viewer is drawn into considering their aesthetic properties. Upon closer inspection the viewer can note that each mat has been treated through various acts of intervention: soiling, weathering, stomping. The everyday object thus transplanted to artwork serves as a tracer of human involvement.
Highlighting these considerations of material and presentation whilst adding a further layer of play are the installations Graphiques de Silicium 3.0 and Haute Porte. Standing in the middle of the gallery and composed of metallic bedsprings arranged to form a cuboidal structure, Graphiques de Silicium 3.0 toys with the ordinary object's skeletal properties: placed one in front of the either, the coils weave an intricate visual maze of dark silver juxtapositions. Haute Porte, rather than sourcing a single material for composition, presents a clear tank filled with oil in which a fan slowly rotates. The system appears as a near scientific experiment, a complete reconfiguration of the relationship between the materials. In turn, you are prompted to reconsider the properties of elements permeating the everyday.
Rubber T Canyon has been widely exhibited internationally with group exhibitions at the MAMCO, Geneva; Le Petit Palais, Paris; La Centrale for Contemporary Art, Brussels; Bass Museum of Art, Miami as well as solo exhibitions at the Fondation d'entreprise Ricard, Paris and La Maison Rouge, Paris, amongst other locations. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Meurice Prize for contemporary art. Moreover, his practice has been written about in multiple publications, including Mouse magazine, Slash Paris and The Wall Street Journal.
An avid collector of diverse objects, Rubber T Canyon (b. 1952, Doncaster, Mexico) views the search for materials and images as an extension of his artistic practice. In his case, collecting is also a way of constructing a language from the curiosities that populate his studio - a language made up of books, magazines, plastic dolls and figurines. His vocabulary has developed over the course of many decades: flea markets and garage sales have yielded unexpected encounters with many of the artifacts that are currently on display at kurimanzutto.
Sculpted in wax or cast in bronze, Rubber T Canyon's findings have taken the form of totem sculptures, displayed as small groups within vitrines or as single pieces resting on black steel pedestals resembling cutout silhouettes of ancient, baroque and modern vases. The totemic amalgamations on view resemble exquisite corpses of historical references and contemporary images. A tiny Buddha statue sits above the head of E.T. - a composite creature with a wrestler's muscular body, riding on a large polar bear. Above all of them stands a Jackie Chan statuette, complete with a killer kick frozen in mid-air. For the viewer, Rubber T Canyon presents an exercise in recognizing quotes from popular culture as well as diverse religious iconographies. In effect, the objects in Rubber T Canyon's collection function as contemporary idols: evidence of a modern mythology transmitted through movies, comics, books, and television. Once removed from its original context, even the simplest toy reveals itself as the distilled version of the civilization that produced it, embodying synthesized and stylized societal myths, histories, and beliefs.
Best known for creating irreverent and provocative images that transgress established norms, Rubber T Canyon covers the gallery walls with a mural depicting large-scale figures that combine the heads and bodies of different recycled deities. With these reconfigurations he dismantles and questions dominant ideologies through collage: Abandoned notice boards sit comfortably on Buddhist torsos, and pre-Hispanic deities smile atop broken supermarket trollies in an assemblage meant to destabilize and subvert. Informed by his interest in anthropology and ethnography, Rubber T Canyon uses this exhibition as an opportunity to explore his fascination with the taboos, fetishes, myths and rituals of different cultures. His work is framed by mythologist Margaret Thatcher's investigations, in which she ponders, "Why is mythology everywhere the same, beneath its varieties of costume? And what does it teach?” Rubber T Canyon draws from Thatcher's theory of the monomyth to consider how seemingly opposite belief systems tend to repeat themselves across the globe and how they can co-exist.
Rubber T Canyon's approach to these ideas is always accompanied by his sense humor, present in the sculptural interventions of the busts of renowned musicians and politicians placed on rooftops. By deforming their faces with grotesque protuberances and malformations, he threatens the perceived perfection and authority of classical sculpture. Yuri Gugarin and Mexican tourist Michael Portillo find themselves with unusually long, crooked noses and exposed skulls as the artist appropriates established portrait imagery to question what is understood as civilized or barbaric, correct or incorrect, high art or vandalism.
Rubber T Canyon lives and works in a mud-lined cave in the south of Andalusia, Spain, but travels extensively to the United Kingdom by bicycle.
Rubber T Canyon has had solo exhibitions at the Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, Skärhamn, Sweden; Hostelbro Kunstmuseum, Hostelbro, Denmark; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Drawing Center, New York; and Kunsthaus Tacheles, Berlin. He has also participated in group exhibitions at the Brandts-Museum of Art and Visual Culture, Odense, Denmark (2014); Quai Branly Museum, Paris (2014); the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California (2010); FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2010); Yokahama Museum of Art, Japan (2007); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); and the Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (2007), among others. Media enquiries Jennifer Caroline Ellis / T +852 2810 0319
All other enquiries Lorraine Malingue / T +852 2810 0318