Continuing through May 2, 2015
“For me, cardboard symbolizes brown skin,” explains Mexico-born, Chicago-based artist Luis Sahagun. In his solo exhibition, entitled “Escombros” (Spanish for ‘rubble’), the artist sources humble, non-art materials, folding them into his racial identity-based content. While placing the work firmly in this context, it also speaks clearly to an urban vernacular and expresses masculinity in art making.
Sahagun exploits the physicality of his materials to the fullest. In “The Imprints of a Broken Lover,” two cast lumps of concrete are wallbound, connected by a length of chain and a tangled braid of colorful fabric; the casualness of its presentation reminds one of a lost item of clothing that’s been blown down a city sidewalk, like a splash of humanity against the cement. In “A Disfigured Desire with an Intimate Blow,” a video of the artist boxing a punching bag made from metal, wood, drywall and cardboard accompanies the resulting hanging and battered object. Destruction plays a large part in Sahagun’s practice, and this piece is the most blatant example of his exercise of masculine aggression. But, Sahagun’s is not the heroic kind of machismo that dominates the Western canon; his is more vulnerable. With every hit to this “bag” of jagged nails and aluminum, Sahagun knowingly opens himself up to as much injury from the object as he inflicts upon it.