A Sense of BelongingMasa Gallery
"Within these eccentric surroundings, each piece on display negotiates its place in the nebulous realm between art and design."
In the north western district of Paseo de las Palmas in Mexico City, an abandoned 1970s mansion is home to an exhibition of around 70 unusual pieces of furniture and lighting. Titled Collective/Collectible, the show has been created by MASA, a nomadic gallery founded by a group of designers, curators and collectors based in Mexico City.
Their inaugural show, Collective/Collectible, which runs until 13th April, is preoccupied with the question of belonging and what it might mean in the context of Mexican culture. Eschewing the ‘white box’ gallery formula, the large mansion offers a dramatic setting for the show. Blood red walls meld with deep pile red carpets, black chandeliers hang from high white ceilings, and long panels of light are cast between filmy green drapes.
Within these eccentric surroundings, each piece on display negotiates its place in the nebulous realm between art and design. Historical pieces are also placed throughout the exhibition to add context to the contemporary works. Unexpected applications of material and alterations to familiar forms collide with Mexico’s modern design vocabulary, political past, ancient foundations and traditional industries.
In the hallway, a slight, brass corner chair by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo glints in the light from two towering windows that reach from the floor to the double height ceiling. Further along the corridor, two pink-tinted concrete chairs by Mexican sculptor Pedro Reyes are positioned against the wall; their angular, architectural arms pre-empt the jagged stairs ahead. Square, stout and decorative, they recall the geometric forms of Mesoamerican art. Above them hang five tar and paper works by MASA co-founder Brian Thoreen, their black textured surfaces creating deep voids in the red wall.
Elsewhere, a sculptural candelabra by Tezontle Studio postures before a black marble fireplace, and two circular altar tables by EWE Studio, one white, one black, are placed in front of a dark, surrealist painting by the British artist Leonora Carrington, who participated in the Mexico Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s. Also from EWE Studio are a series of reimagined milking stools. Small and characterful, they evoke an older and more bucolic sense of belonging directly to the land, entwined in the realities of agriculture.
The exhibition continues outside in the mansion’s grounds. Jorge Méndez Blake’s Pavilion (And so on for Thousands of Years) lies beneath vast trees, its black wall panels and empty spaces in turn revealing and obscuring the garden behind. Inside the pavilion is a series of sculptural tables by Jose Dávila, their marble surfaces folding at right angles like surrealist clocks.