Caleb Duarte and Xun Gallo at Jack Fischer Gallery

by Admin on 01/12/2012

Caleb Duarte returns to Jack Fischer Gallery with artist Xun Gallo in a collaborative exhibition of contemporary life in fragments in Chiapas, Mexico. Full of rainforests and significant Mayan archeological sites, Chiapas is home to one of the Mexico’s largest indigenous populations. The southernmost state in Mexico has been unstable with outside interests of agricultural redevelopment, most famously manifested in the 1994 Zapatista uprising. A documentary video in the back of the gallery and informational booklet provides a helpful context for the exhbition.

Caleb Duarte has been continually interested in the ideas and themes of identity as related to our homes, place, or displacement. Duarte sees living spaces have a unique ability to illustrate our way of life and our placement in the world. A local artist now living in Mexico, Duarte founded EDELO, a multidisciplinary art space and residency program. Xun Gallo is a native Chiapas resident and illustrator, writer and painter. For this show, Duarte asked Gallo to paint the figures on top of his dry wall and driftwood constructions.

The beautifully simple colorful figurative drawings of the people of Chiapas drawn upon modern housing materials like drywall and construction elements like cinder blocks and sawhorses are haunting epitaphs to the way of life and culture that Duarte and Gallo see as residents of Chiapas slowly erode with each one of the redevelopment and agricultural plans realized. Some are incredibly detailed, care taken to reveal each wrinkle of a sleeve or tear in a coat. Others are in full color, mostly those of people in indigenous dress.

The most striking work in the exhibit is Caleb Duarte’s precariously fashioned structure in the middle of the gallery. Large remnants of drywall boards seeming haphazardly screwed together support an even greater and heavier structure made of reclaimed wood and reinforced concrete. It took only a few minutes to see Duarte’s structure obviously makes its proximate audience uncomfortable and back away, largely because upon visual examination it looks so unstable. Upon further reflection, the structure and its relationship to its observers is an incredibly insightful analogy to the current structures in Chiapas: both literally in the living conditions where houses are fashioned from available materials and necessity, and the country’s infastructure, with these materials the redevelopment plans intend to completely change the way of life and identity of the indigenous people, placing everyone in a precarious and unstable relationship.


Caleb Duarte & Xun Gallo’s collaborative show at Jack Fischer Gallery until February 11, 2012.