Bienvenu Steinberg and J is pleased to present Time is a Visual Tool (from Watts to Walker), Marco Maggi’s tenth exhibition with the gallery. The show documents a slow walk spanning years and just a few Tribeca blocks. It takes about twelve minutes to walk from 123 Watts to 35 Walker Street, it took Marco Maggi more than twenty years, -or the equivalent of one step every three days- between November 1998, the date of his first New York solo show, and October 2022.
The exhibition includes several examples of slow walks on the artist's materials of choice: standard paper reams, kitchen foil, clayboard, solid Plexiglass, Dibond, slides mounts and convex acrylic mirror. Maggi favors generic formats and materials. His abstract language refers to the way information is processed in a global and yet myopic era. Every surface is examined with surgical precision and excised for evidence. Composed of linear patterns that may suggest circuit boards, aerial views of impossible cities, genetic engineering or nervous systems, his drawings and sculptures turn abstraction into cultural criticism.
The main ambition of Maggi’s work is to promote pauses and make time visible. In a series of micro collages, the diminutive fragments of paper are either disseminated or connected following the rules and syntax dictated by any accumulation of sediments. Some areas throughout the surface are infiltrated with color, red, yellow, or blue. The colonies of tiny folded papers reflect the light upon them. Myriads of shadows and infinitesimal projections invite the viewer to slow down. "Drawing for me is like writing in a language that I don't understand." The field of the drawings enacts the collapse of visual perception, our inability to see the whole because we are blinded by its fragments.
In 2014, the year Russia invaded Crimea, Maggi created the first version of Putin's Pencils. In its new inception, Putin’s Pencils (2022-2014), ten color pencils are pointed against the wall, held by the tension of bowstrings. The trajectory of these Soviet era pencils is frozen, as going backward in time. Like the needles of an obsolete seismograph, the pencils are ready to record the slightest slippages. Across from the pencils, Adieu au Language is the outline of an empty rectangular diptych, the title refers to Jean Luc Godard's film released in 2014, Goodbye Language.
Two sculptural objects question the limits of perception. Glasnost is a convex surveillance mirror incised and almost completely covered with an intricate web of lines, except for a small transparent island shape on the upper right of the mirror. The drawing and the reflected viewer get trapped in thousands of X-Acto knife cuts. As each line is cloned by the mirror and duplicated instantly, the boundary between real and fake becomes blurred. “Reality becomes illegible and visual arts invisible”. Global Myopia: a biconvex lens standing in an open crate resembles a giant crystalline. The crystalline lens is what enables the eye to erase the world by focusing on close or faraway details. "We live inside a phone: a screen that brings us closer to what is faraway and takes us away from what is close to us." Global Myopia registers these two extremes on the surface of a lens.
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1957, Marco Maggi lives and works in New York and Uruguay. His works has been shown extensively throughout the United States, Latin America and Europe. He represented Uruguay at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Select exhibitions include: Museo Brasileiro da Escultura (MUBE), São Paulo, BR (2018); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2017); Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House, London (2016); The Morgan Library & Museum, New York (2015); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, BR (2012); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2006); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2003); Fifth Gwangju Biennial, KR (2004); VIII Havana Biennial, CU (2003); 25th São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo, BR (2002). His work is included in various museum collections such as Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Art Institute of Chicago; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, São Paulo.
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