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Three Openings in Three Paragraphs

Last Wednesday night I returned from a seven day trip to New Orleans. In my state of exhaustion I went straight to Perrotin to see the opening of three shows: Gabriel de la Mora’s “Lepidoptera”, ob’s “Your, My, Story”, and Xavier Veilhan’s “Autofocus”. I quickly breezed through ob’s and de la Mora’s shows before slowing down at Xavier Veilhan’s show on the top floor. Walking into the top floor space felt like a surrealist dream—my current state of no sleep and dehydration probably added to it. Many of the sculptures shown here have minimal facial detail, and the forms themselves seem like old bars of soap, their edges seemingly eroded away by time. Viewers are able to cast their own impressions of the figures before us. I saw within the forms a man, faded away by too much drink and debauchery, yet protected by the nearby dogs. The lone figure Violeta no1, leaning up against a form not unlike a stool, reminded me of impending death, that we enter the world alone and leave it just the same. The oversized stationary mobiles nearby though suggested that this moment is all we have and to have anxiety about death accomplishes nothing. All we have is the present. And art helps us through these pains of being alive. Even anxiety can be exciting. All of it is a gift.

If Veilhan has created a dream for us to play inside, ob has invited us into her dreams. She has created imaginary landscapes with manga-like girls inhabiting them, all with a pastel palette that reminded me of my favorite Japanese painter Hiroshi Sugito. While the palette of these colorful paintings might seem childlike and whimsical, the girls inside them feel uncertain, uneasy, and beyond their years. They’ve witnessed something of this world that makes them cautious and almost melancholic. Ob shares with us what it might feel like for a girl in this current world, filled with uncertainty, trauma, and isolation. How necessary it is to create dream worlds not only for themselves to play in but also invite their friends inside so that they can connect and be reassured that they are not alone. Aside from the lush paintings, you’ll also find a grouping of ob’s drawings, which I particularly fell in love with. They are so full of life, energy, and wonder. They are even stronger than the paintings themselves. I look forward to ob progressing as an artist and seeing the further depth of her painting.

Finally on the ground floor, we have “Lepidoptera,” which literally means an order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. Mexican artist Gabriel de la Mora has created small abstract, geometric paintings using the bodies of butterflies sourced from conservation farms in Peru, Indonesia, and Madagascar. Conceptually, having these paintings on the ground floor is quite lovely, as if de la Mora had found the corpses of the butterflies on the ground floor of the gallery after they had each seen the exhibitions above them. The works are stunningly beautiful, especially after knowing their source material. As an artist who tends to make works that are quite “messy,” I admire the care and attention de la Mora has placed in each of the paintings. De la Mora also has straddled quite successfully that line between art and design, as beautiful far away as they are up close. The short life of the butterfly reminded me of again of impending death. We come full circle from the show at the top. I wondered, if something could be made as beautiful from our own human bodies, perhaps some of us might fear death less.

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