26 Oct 2008
18 Jan 2009


maison rouge - fondation antoine de galbert, Paris

isabel and Agustín coppel

This exhibition of the Isabel and Agustin Coppel Collection attempts to explore contemporary Mexican art from a point of view that simultaneously underlines the intense dialogue with its canonical predecessors that characterizes it and the international landscape to which it also belongs. As a result, two frames of reference ground the curatorial effort deployed here: on the one hand, this presentation attempts to address a collection which is open to the global dynamics that fuel the contemporary art of our period, and on the other, to show that the Coppel Collection is equally committed to a growing group of Mexican contemporary artist and a constantly enlarging local audience. The main goal of this exhibition and its publication is thus to allow the viewer to see how the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection champions contemporary art nationally and internationally while it precisely and consistently interrogates the fundamental differences between those two categories.

The Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection features key figures of the Mexican contemporary art scene such as Francis Alÿs, Melanie Smith, Gabriel Orozco, Abraham Cruzvillegas , and Damian Ortega among many others. Departing from the work of these artists the collection expands diachronically in an effort to establish the possible influences and antecedents to the work of these artists, in the practices of figures such as Gordon Matta Clark, Lygia Clark, Ed Ruscha and Helio Oiticica. It also deploys itself synchronically as it incorporates younger international artists with a poetic that seems akin to that of the Mexicans, such as Tatiana Trouvé, Rivane Neuenschwander and Terence Koh.

“Mexico: Expected/Unexpected” attempts thus to explore a possible definition of Mexican contemporary art with works that dialogue with and overcome that notion as a stable category. In a movement that echoes what seems to be taking place in other areas of Mexican culture such as film and literature, the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection –as well as this exhibition- operate as a sort of mirror that projects an image of contemporary Mexican art that is unstable, rich, complex, unpredictable, in which tradition and innovation are in constant interplay. The resulting image surprises just there where the viewer would have only expected the plainness of the cliché.

The show is organized roughly in five sections. The works installed at the entrance of the exhibition space will introduce the viewer to the Collection through the notions of limit and borders -by these we understand the physical limits of the exhibition space as well as the geographical border with the US that has played so fundamental a role in modern and contemporary Mexican culture. The second section links formally, through a series of resonating typologies, works realized in various mediums (painting, sculpture, video, installation) while at the same time alluding to established notions of Mexican-ness, such as images of death, the relation between the city and nature, the poetics of craftsmanship, and the precariousness of everyday life. The third section, dominated by a work by Tatiana Trouvé specially made for the exhibition, introduces two contiguous galleries: one that emphasizes the structural and constructive affinities of the works on display, and another one where the exhibition explores a number of iconographic resonances that challenge notions of nationalism and belonging.

Overall, the main trait of “Mexico: Expected/Unexpected” is to complicate the relationship between the local and the international, in such way that the non-Mexican artists in the show seem to respond to a presumptive notion of Mexican-ness while the Mexican artists seem concerned with contradicting it. In this movement the exhibition mimics the logic that organizes the Coppel collection and seems to pervade the unpredictable space of Mexican contemporary culture.

Mónica Amor (Exhibition Curator)
Carlos Basualdo (Project Advisor)

Carlos Amorales
John Baldessari
Kendell Geers
Gabriel Orozco
Rivane Neuenschwander
General information
la maison rouge
fondation antoine de galbert
10 bd de la bastille
75012 Paris
t : +33 (0)1 40 01 08 81
f : +33 (0)1 40 01 08 83
Press contact:
Julie Martinez

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