Mauricio Escobar – Dissolutions

Mauricio Escobar –

Introduction: At the age of twenty Mauricio left Colombia and went to France. In Paris he attended the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts for four years, and the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Decoratives for two years. Thereafter he continued his own research and became a free artist. Through friends in Lille he met people of Galerie K.Art and was asked by the Colombian Ambassador to make exhibitions. Many followed during the next decades: he came in contact with the organisators of the MAC 2000 in the Grand Palais Paris. There he met the owners of Galerie Arlette Gimaray in Paris and Wim Fromans of Vromans Galerie – Gebouw Atrium in Amsterdam, by whom he was presented at Kunst Rai Amsterdam 1999-2000- 2001. I met Mauricio in 2015 when I curated a series of exhibitions for the C-Lab de Vlugt in Amsterdam. I asked him to participate in the 5th year anniversary C-Lab expo. Fifteen artists made a work about the postwar neighbourhood, at the west side of the city where C-Lab is located. In Mauricio’s work the harbour and cranes are depicted by him using the technique of pigments on canvas.

In this year march and april you had an exhibition in ‘Dat Bolwerck’ in Zutphen. How did this opportunity occur and how has your work been selected?

Again through friends I came in contact with Vincent Peppelenbosch, the initiator of the art centre Dat Bolwerck. Already In 2015 we made a first solo show with smaller paintings and the frames I constructed at the time. For the exhibition this year I started with a global idea, adapted to the location and of course the objects should fit the space. Everything is made according to my own ideas and plans, as developed in the last years.

How about the present exhibition in the Culture Centre Waterkant in Alkmaar?

Since 2017 I shared workspace with other artists in a former office complex in Alkmaar. My paintings, made at home in Amsterdam, are in storage there – as I have no atelier since 2016. For the exhibition in the Cultural Centre Waterkant I worked eight weeks on special objects, looking for coherence with the exhibition space.

… and the Nassaukerk in Amsterdam?

The object in that church is in fact by commission. I met people of the Nassaukerk at an exhibition in Bergen October 2018 where I participated in the Kunst 10daagse in Frankenstate. A group exhibition in a big hall with forty five pieces: paintings, objects and lamps. They loved the lamps. Consequently it became a challenge to develop that concept further. The result is a big centrepiece hanging from the ceiling of the church around a classic chandelier with modern led light. The object has the form of a boat. Quite large, 8m x 5m, at the centre of the nave of the church, especially made to fit. This piece of art was inaugurated at Easter and commemorates the resurrection. Inspired by the idea: ‘new light new life’.

What makes these locations interesting? Is there great impact on your work – do you design and make installations especially for the occasion?

Yes, sure in a lot of places. For example already twenty years ago in the Atrium WTC in Amsterdam I made tall works in the 26m high court. And shortly after that in an old granite fort in Bretagne a big lamp floating in water and other lamps suspended in trees. In that time there was a budget to do these special installations. And I had more financial freedom because I sold large paintings and some of my frames in that period.

Your work is very physical. Where do you work and can you tell more about the making of the large scale objects ?

Previously I had a large workspace in an industrial building at the Cruquiusweg in eastern Amsterdam – but the contract was not renewed because the owner could let for better prices after the last crises ended. I actually work at home in Amsterdam or at the workspace of friends in Alkmaar in a former business centre. Of course space and daylight is essential for me working on large scale and translucent objects ….

How about the character of your work – what are your roots, ideas and intentions?

I was born in Bogota, a city 3000 m above sea level, in the middle of the impressive nature of South America. I became hypnotized – and strongly influenced – by soil, plants and animals, by colours and textures. I grew up with this passion and it is still driving me today: always concerned with figuration and materialisation. In Colombia I was already fascinated by hard versus soft, liquids, natural pigments and the process of corrosion and dissolution. So I started to make collages, worked with rotten material and discovered oxidation – for example in Iron – which gives an impression of permanence. But I was not satisfied – could not get the process cq rigid effect in the materials under control. I wanted stability and moreover: was looking for translucency. I found it in leaves of plants and natural fabrics, nice because it finally entails in flexibility. The ability to form and reform.

The objects in the cellar in the garden in Zutphen appear to be subject to changes during the exhibition – does this evolution change your attitude towards future projects?

Yes, I think so. The works in the cave in Zutphen were subject to a humid atmosphere without heating and because I covered them with plastic, a certain rotting took place and even mushrooms grew inside, a process of organic transformation ….. So in that case the title ‘Dissolutions’ of my work is right away visible. And sure I guess this process of transformation and the ephemerality will return in next projects.

For the opening of the exhibition in Zutphen you wrote a special poem. Is this a new way to express yourself – is it your intention to continue writing?

I have done it before in France. But then I recited myself. In Zutphen the poem was recited in French by a schoolteacher and simultaneously, verse by verse, in Dutch by the city poet. Finally the French teacher explained some of the French words emphasizing the meaning and melody of them. So the plasticity became extra clear.

Do you have plans for the near future – are you thinking of new subjects?

In the church, at the 20th of June, there will be a recital of a new poem by the same people who did so in Zutphen. And indeed, I suppose I will go on working with language in combination with new physical objects. It is evident that nature will remain my starting point. Of course in experiments concerning materialisation and location.

More info

The Nassaukerk is open to the public 20 April – 30 June 2019 Maurcio is regularly in both Paris and Amsterdam.

Herbert van der Brugghen, april 2019

Jack Henry on his practice

Jack Henry
on his practice

Oliver Jones, Brooklyn-based sculptor talked to Jack Henry on his art and practice.

I was thinking about recent science fiction movies with future ruin scenarios that are aesthetically related to your work. Annihilation has a psychedelic nature-takes-back-over in a mutated form look. In 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis goes above ground to a Philadelphia where animals from the zoo have taken back the city. District 9 has a junk assemblage aesthetic. How do you feel about those movies in relation to work and aesthetically is there any crossover?

Aesthetically there’s some crossover from each. out of all three I like that aesthetic of 12 Monkeys the most because it doesn’t seem so far from reach. I think in the future cities are like they are now, only more so. A dense metropolis, and nature will come back, but we may not be here.

Yeah, I think that the future isn’t a perfectly natural or perfectly manicured world but a hybrid of both and that you resign yourself to find the beauty within it. When I was thinking about these references in comparison to your work, I thought yours is actually neo-romantic – nature growing over ruins as the height of beauty.

I want to depict the tension between nature and man-made forces, of which there is a long history in art. But, I think to depict landscape accurately today is to show that the scales have tipped drastically to the side of man-made forces. In my work I combine plant-life and found objects within cast material. The work can been seen as though I’m taking a hopeless stance, but I think of it as a matter-of-fact observation or even hopeful. To consider the landscape today is to realize that some level of human intervention will always be present within it, but as a long as an element of nature is present, its sublime beauty can transcend the conditions put upon it.

So, your work encourages us to be romantic about the future dystopia and the current dystopia?

Even if we want to appreciate the majesty our national parks, they are lands that are preserved and protected from ourselves, so conceptually they’re still under our control. In Yellowstone I hear you’ll find the occasional electric hookups coming out of the ground as you walk around.

Essentially it’s just an amusement park like in Westworld.

Another good sci-fi piece.

You just did a project in Puerto Rico using crushed, cubed steel. It occurred to me that your practice has been leading up to a point where you can just use a trash compactor to make the work – like in your core sample sculptures – but now you can work directly with the junk without intervening

I used a bailer that makes cubes out of metal or really any material you can think of. I’ve essentially been doing the same process on a smaller scale, but I would bind the objects together by casting them in cement or Hydrocal, so this is more efficient.

You were there for four weeks, did you have to figure it all out when you got there?

There was a proposal process, but most of it needed to be figured out there. That was difficult for me at first. I’m used to doing everything by myself in my studio in New York. So working with a foundation, needing to source materials and organize help with heavy machinery was something I had to adjust to, especially since I don’t speak Spanish.

What is the Spanish verb for to crush?

… ‘No comprendo’?

The sculpture is reminiscent of Stonehenge or monolithic works of an archaic Stone Age. Knowing how you’ve worked for a long time, when I saw the piece I thought, Jack couldn’t have done this by himself he clearly had help from ancient aliens

I was the alien! Working on that scale required a lot of help. I worked with a recycling center in Dorado to crush the objects, with Skylift operator to position the blocks and with some landscape architects to figure out the best way to grow and sustain the grass.

So now the foundation has to maintain it, is there an anticipation that it will change as it grows?

I expect it to change. Over time birds will live in it and drop seeds, and in that climate local flora should begin to grow within a few months. So the piece should look very different a year from now. I wanted to use grass for this piece because it’s a material that carries some innate conflicts. On the one hand grass – especially in the form of Hydroseed – is used as a technology to revitalize damaged terrain and promote growth of local flora, on the other hand it’s used as a superficial veneer to beautify commercial developments where local flora was removed. It’s intended to mirror the conflict within the foundation’s mission: an ecologically focused sculpture program that takes place on a beach resort that removed its local flora in favor of an unobstructed view of the ocean. But over time, birds will live in my sculpture and drop seeds, and in that climate local flora will begin to grow within a few months. So the piece should look very different a year from now.

It’s similar to Donald Trump’s seaside golf course in Scotland that he built on a Nature Preserve. The development created erosion problems that messed up his resort and only then did he begin to care about ecological control.

Exactly, the site of my sculpture is on the north shore of the island, where 50 foot sand dunes once were, the dunes protected the inland from major storm surges, but they have been removed in favor of an unobstructed view of the ocean from the resort. But I want to illustrate that despite the negative affects caused by commercial development, advancements in biological technologies may provide a path out of the situation we’ve put ourselves in regarding climate change.

The series of photos I took that you curated into a two-person show a few years ago were taken at a golf course in the desert near Palm Springs. The guy that took me there said that each year they pull out and replace every plant, nothing goes to root. So it remains manicured to perfection like Versailles.

That must be so expensive.

I think that’s the point.

I was thinking that your newer small-scale reliefs that include a lot of plant life and negative space have a lot in common with 19th century Botanical illustrations. The white of the plaster becomes the white of the page making the contrast of everything look like a graphic drawing.

Lately the compositions of the reliefs have included less casting material and more objects and plant life protruding into negative space. The purpose is to highlight the frailty and impermanence of the objects. The negative space allows the objects to be on full display, appreciated for their features. So, in that way the compositions are very similar to 19th century botanical drawings.

so what are you coming back from Puerto Rico to work on?

I have a show at Wasserman Projects in Detroit opening April 26th. I’ll be including a lot of reliefs and large cast columns. A lot of work will be made to for the space so I’m going there to work on the show. And I want the objects in the pieces to be from the area. I grew up just up the road in Flint, MI. So, I want to make work that catches some of spirit of living there without being all Motor-City about it.

Well – to get Motor-City about it – you collect objects from empty lots and abandoned spaces, which there are a lot of out there. As a kid growing up there did a lot of your play take place in those spots?

Those were always the spots that caught my eye and captured my imagination. They were forbidden. As kids we didn’t know why and that made them magic, like something supernatural must have happened there to make them off-limits. So those were the places we wanted to go.

There’s a paradigm relating to that – parents spend a lot of time trying to create a world that’s safe and secure but that creates an adverse reaction in their kids, where it’s like, “let’s go find the place that’s the opposite of that structured safe reality”.

That’s one of the reasons I’m excited for this show. I’ll be going back to where I grew up and collecting things from those spaces.

And you can store all the unsold work in your parents basement.


Jack Henry’s solo exhibition, Surface Yield, is on view at Wasserman Projects in Detroit, Michigan from April 26th to June 29th. More information at

Photo credit: Derek Brueckner

instagram: jackbhenry

Gili Avissar and “Art to Wear”

Gili Avissar
“Art to Wear”

Hello Gili, thank you for your time. We are pleased to have you in Nouvel Organon magazine. How are you?

Thank you, it’s a pleasure to take part in the Nouvel Organon Interviews. We met in Paris in 2013 while I was at the Cite des Arts, and I’m happy that we’ve stayed in touch. It was really great, I miss it!

You came back from USA not long ago. What was good for you there?

I was mainly in Miami, at the Fountainhead Artist Residency, which is run by Kathryn and Dan Mikesell. It’s a very intimate residency, with three artists from different parts of the world living together for one month. It was interesting to get to know the local scene and its artists. While it is a little like Tel Aviv, because of the ocean, it is so much bigger, with a lot of art and a collectors’ scene as well. I took a brief trip to NY to have a more extensive glimpse of the art scene. It was a bit hysterical to experience “everything” in five days. What stuck in my head was a great show in the New Museum by Nari Ward, and in Miami there was a great show by Judy Chicago at the ICA.

Not long ago you had a residency in Novi Sad as well. How was that?

I loved staying at Novi Sad, it had the nicest people I ever met! It’s a small city. I took a few trips to Belgrade. I was mostly interested in the crafts they make, which I felt influenced my latest works. I don’t know how to weave, but my last works looked as if they were woven. I think it is mainly because of my trip there. As always, I met the most interesting people only on the last day. Since I was mostly by myself I did all the arty stuff, and I went to a ski resort, skiing for the first time.

I have this feeling that art is the very solitary job, despite the fact you are surrounded by others. How you see art as a job?

For the last 10 years, I’ve shared my studio with a colleague, the artist Oz Mallul. We work in different mediums, but we keep each other company. In my working process, I need to be by myself very much, since I explore the works in connection with my body. But during the process of creating the objects, I need to have someone else’s company, which gives me motivation and keeps me active.

How is it to be back in Tel Aviv?

Tel Aviv is my home, so it is always nice to come back.

How did art come into your life ,or how did you come to art?

I wanted to be a fashion designer. At age 15 I sent Vogue a letter asking them to hire me. They responded by saying I should study first. A year later I went to a fashion high school to study design. I realized there that what I create is more art than clothing. Still, what I really love is sewing, discovering new shapes, and creating new patterns.

After high school I went to the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, where I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in art.

It is interesting that many people see fashion as art. Would you agree to that? And what is your opinion about the relation between art and fashion?

I totally agree that fashion can be art, as almost everything else can be art.

For me art is the thing that is never the thing but it communicates with and has a connection to it. I like the feeling of not fully understanding what I see or what I do on a rational and conscious level.

For me, fashion, art, or architecture are just categories, it doesn’t really matter in which medium one works.

Can you please tell us more about ‘almost everything else can be art.” What brought you to this conclusion?

For me art is like pointing toward something. In that sense, art can be everywhere. In the last few days I had to stay in the hospital due to family matters. Although the situation was bad, my brain finds art in everything that surrounds us.

Can you tell us more about your art practice?

The things that excite me the most are surprises and mistakes that happen in my daily practice in the studio.

My daily routine can be quite mundane. I go to my studio very early in the morning and for eight hours I immerse myself in work, inventing my own daily mission to be accomplished. I immediately start working; I like to discover things, less so to conceptualize about what I am going to do. If I don’t like something I’ve already sewn, I know it can be either cut or detached. I usually prefer to see if my ideas are good by carrying them out, not by thinking about them first.

In many ways my work is about creating worlds, to borrow a term from the fashion world. I like the way my works are changing in time like seasons’ collections.

I also keep my works in a state of change; while I add more materials I also recycle my old works into new ones.

Why textiles?

I came to textiles through my love of fashion, and as I’ve found out that there are endless possibilities I could explore with material. I like how organic and versatile it can be, permitting me to shape and sew it in endless ways. It is also very easy to transport and fold – even my bigger pieces don’t take up much space in my studio after the moment I am done with them.

Textiles allow me to be very playful, as though there are no rules. And it is important for me to keep the playfulness alive, an ongoing expedition towards the next discovery.

On a more personal level, when I was young I used to visit my grandma. In her closet there were two fabrics with different patterns: one gold and one purple. They were much larger than my size, so I wrapped myself in them, covered my body, and took on all the other forms I could be. I still act in the same way in my studio; working with large pieces and creating a new mess.

Is your studio in Tel Aviv?

Yes. As Tel Aviv is my home, I can’t keep my studio too far away. My studio is a bomb shelter that the Tel Aviv municipality rents out to artists cheaply for 6 years. The deal is that when war breaks out the artists must pack all of their stuff and evacuate their shelters within four hours. This happened last four years ago.

My six years have now passed and I need to find a new studio. It’s going to be difficult, since prices are crazy in Tel Aviv and it will be impossible for me to rent a place that isn’t subsidized. I really haven’t figured out what to do yet.

In fact, how does it feel to be living in a country in permanent conflict? How does it impact your everyday life?

It has been my reality since I was born. It is hard for me to compare it to other realities. Only when coming back after a long period aboard do I realize the stress that the government and the news provoke. In the morning, the newspaper talks about impending war, and in the evening about imminent peace, and this repeats itself on a daily basis. I gave up on trying to figure out what’s going on. I think the politicians and the media aim to keep everyone confused and sick. I don’t believe in politics and I think most people are in it for the money and power, so that there is no one to trust and no leader to follow.

What kind of reactions have you had to your work? How would you like people to react to it?

For me the pieces are very intimate. Seeing others’ reactions is something I take very personally. I feel like the works are another layer of my skin, wrapping my body. Many times, when I have an exhibition, this intimate feeling transforms into what the viewer perceives as something big and colorful. On the one hand, to make something that is spectacular, and on the other hand, this something is intimate and takes time to get into.

Like a spider that spins its web, I want to arouse the curiosity of the viewer with colors, and only later come the details, stories, and an intimate environment that is beyond beautiful colors.

How does your work engage with social and political issues? And do you think it’s necessary for art to do so?

I deal with these two questions on a daily basis but don’t have many answers.

I grew up and live in a place that is a conflict zone, and in many ways you get to feel that the conflict is normal. People grow many protective layers in order to survive such a reality.

Over the years, I’ve mostly felt that my works are apolitical because politics in this area is usually concentrated on the Jewish-Arab conflict. When I was a student in Jerusalem, the conflict has been very tangible as the city is deeply polarized between conflicting populations, and those were the days of the aftermath of the second Intifadeh. I had a very immediate, gut-felt reaction to that, so it deeply influenced my art at the time. In later years I came to feel that, paradoxically, direct political art mostly legitimizes the situation in a new way; it’s like cleansing your guilty soul but its effect is very limited. It doesn’t reach the audience it really needs to reach, since the art world in general is so pluralistic and accepting, at least allegedly.

Lately I’ve realized that even while I don’t deal with the national conflict in my art as an explicit subject, I nonetheless deal with the conflict in my soul and my body. The personal iterations of conflict are much more at hand. I believe these are different levels of the same phenomenon – the personal and the social reflect and fuel each other.

Are you represented by a gallery or you are a solo player? If you are, how does it work? If you are not, do you struggle with everyday administration, things that need to be done to keep your practice going?

I am represented in Tel Aviv by Parasite, which is a very open structure and has no gallery space of its own.

It’s good for me to have this personal/professional connection and still be in charge of every aspect of my career. Art is an around-the-clock vocation, and after working for the whole day in the studio, you still need to apply for grants and so on. I like it.

What are your future plans, if any?

I will have exhibitions in Berlin, Miami, and Brno this summer, so for now I have extremely long days in my studio.

This interview was made 3 days before airstrike on Tel Aviv. Gili Avissar had to leave his studio again.

Good luck Gili and thank you, xx

instagram: gili avissar