BY Bettina Brunner in Reviews | 27 APR 11
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Issue 1

Gabriel Sierra

Galerie Martin Janda

BY Bettina Brunner in Reviews | 27 APR 11

Gabriel Sierra, A Trip to Vienna like Bruno Munari, 2011, Installation view

The exhibition title chosen by Columbian designer and artist Gabriel Sierra, A Trip to Vienna like Bruno Munari, is a reference to the Italian designers playfulness and love of quotation. It can also be related to the migration of geometric forms and colours via the mainly Modernist-influenced design principles expressed in Sierras works. Lines and planes are treated as space-creating, object-forming and subject-related, and geometry is explored in terms of its communicative potential.

The works on show related not only to each other, through similarities in formal idiom and materials, but also to the architecture of the gallery space, namely through concrete structural interventions. That was the point of (Untitled) Cola de Zorro (Foxtail, 2011): the pole-like, height-adjustable mahogany objects stood at several places in the exhibition and functioned as struts between ceiling and floor or as an apparent support for a partition wall, which hindered access to one part of the gallery. Although rendered useless by their obvious fragility, the objects constituted a new relationship between viewer and space.

Preface and Pre-Corner (both 2010) are wall-mounted panels of pale mahogany, partly painted in dark blue; each consists of two sections connected by a wooden hinge. While one of these sections is fixed to the wall, the other can be moved  a mobility that leaves the works in a state of suspension between two- and three-dimensionality. The same is true of (Untitled) Interrupted shelf as a travelling sculpture (2010), a folding wooden shelf. The shelf not only recalls Gerrit Rietvelds Schröder House (1924) in Utrecht an important influence for Sierra but also plays graphically with line and surface.

In (Untitled) Yesterday Today Tomorrow (2010), three geometric figures a yellow triangle, blue rectangle and red circle become toy-like objects, each consisting of several movable wooden blocks. The compartmentalisation of time and its relation to notions of space, suggested by the title, are rendered here in object form; at the same time, the newly gained understanding of this process is once again complicated by the possibility of interaction: rather than one shape corresponding to one time, new forms call for a different, nonlinear concept of time. Setting objects in motion and the resulting change of space also characterize Sierras mobiles The Donkey and the Carrot and (Untitled) useless machine (both 2010), which each consist of wooden panels and one apple hanging from them.

The formal idiom of the mobiles refers directly to Munari, and the titles of some works (like travelling sculpture and useless machine) allude to him. But Sierras subtle play on referentiality goes beyond these links, for his works ultimately lead to an open process of making meaning  a process from which something new can always be derived.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell