The approximation of worth is a human exercise on the identical par with educational reasoning or inventive endeavor. It’s one thing that’s been part of human nature for a protracted as humanity has existed. The dedication of worth in response to the amassing of numerical information to match materials and chronological circumstances within the contexts of various individuals, communities, and societies leads us inexorably right into a aggressive scenario; but there are additionally non secular and aesthetic elements to this quandary that problem us to advance ourselves. As a way to greet the phrases of this problem on equal phrases, it helps to have an object representing high quality by which to gauge and categorical the consequence. It helps much more if the item is immeasurably advanced or idiosyncratic. Within the new work of Gregory de la Haba we have now an exemplary mannequin of objects for reflection. They’re each work of actual objects taken out of an on a regular basis narrative and symbolic embodiments of the transformation of human company, luck, and destiny that motion between locations and values can bestow. They provide us magnificence and thriller of their mastery of serious kind.
De La Haba has a selected fascination with numbers. He finds them alongside the route he takes every day. They’re easy tackle numbers, usually affixed to a doorway in a haphazard trend, the doorways themselves festooned with graffiti tags which will additionally embrace numbers. Bigger wall-based graffiti options numbers portrayed dramatically, usually referencing numerous particular person significance. They might seek advice from a sports activities determine’s staff quantity, or one thing much less ubiquitous: an auspicious date, one’s age, variety of kids, and so forth. Private numbers have an affinity with unintended ones in that, for one motive or one other, they’ll obtain a magical vibration. The numbers that De La Haba locates in his work are, by their very affiliation, traditionally magical, the style by which they’ve been promulgated in in style tradition attaches them particularly to the exercise of playing. This pastime is symbolically loaded and carries a close to cult enchantment. The dynamics of likelihood in figuring out a level of luck, and subsequently of fortune, is one thing that we are able to solely surmise has charismatically advised the need for these work.
JACKPOT 4 DUENDE depicts a door actually lined with varieties and phrases, a single quantity ‘4’ affixed at its middle above the place an eyehole can be. Above the quantity in carnival fashion lettering stretching upwards on the ends like two wings, is the phrase JACKPOT, and beneath it, in a tagger’s script, is the capitalized phrase, Duende. Under the phrase, like sentinels on the door of a fortress or temple, are two photographs of green-glowing harlequins modeled after the artist’s youthful membership child buddy Muffinhead. Between them are the phrases “Fucking LEBOWSKI” in pink. The primary phrase we are able to perceive, it means the best quantity of doable luck, a victory in reaching success in playing. It may be stretched to a which means equal to Eureka, which means a stroke of success within the discovery of any ardently hoped-for consequence. ‘Duende’ is little stickier, for it has no precise translation from its authentic Spanish. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca used it usually to deduce the sensation of an overwhelming emotion, meant because the transmitter of poetic and subsequently existential reality, and the facility, or non secular present that put the reality itself into play. To utter the phrase Duende itself is to talk of spirits and the pure energy of inspiration, just like the invocation of a prayer. The reference to Lebowski is a filmic one, a personality who’s a charismatic loser, an everyman kind like Willy Lowman in The Loss of life of a Salesman. He loses however does it with fashion, and solely as a result of he dangers every thing to win. De La Haba is right here crossing boundaries to take his cultural earmarks from visible sources that additionally possess an archetypal affinity together with his personal character and aspirations.
LAZY EIGHTS presents a door and the brick partitions of the skin of the constructing over and round it in a greenish solid with a trendy graffiti of mawkish faces gazing at guests and passers-by. Falling throughout and over the faces are many small coloured specks, spherical like glass marbles, although they might be confetti, or gumballs, or technicolor hail. They kind a scrim complicating direct perspective. Earlier than them, rising like spirits or electrically charged particles, are three flexible number-eights. They offer the impression of being ghostlike, as if the quantity inferred in each are a separate particular person—an eighth youngster, a member of a sports activities staff, or somebody who was born or died on the age or on a day marked by the identical quantity. The three soundings of the identical quantity are like intonations of a want or a prayer, spoken for impact. Three spirits named 8 rise mysteriously as if by means of dimensions and are momentarily seen, like flotsam blown within the currents of the wind. They jogged my memory of the soul of a lately deceased particular person giving up its mortal weight and rising slowly to heaven. The expression within the title really refers to an air pilot’s take a look at of applicable mastery in utilizing the burden and impulse energy of the airplane to float by means of wind currents and rise right into a scenario of outlined management. Luck (or its metaphor, Grace) is usually achieved by giving up management and letting the winds, or the wings of angels, carry us.
LIFE GIVES SEVENS is one other highly effective work from the brand new sequence. It presents a sequence of interlocking symbols that features the three numbers of absolute charismatic energy, numbers that being prime, and uniquely solely divisible by themselves and the No 1. That’s like saying they’re the identical quantity, an additional imprimatur of important significance. To say one is seven is, within the modern parlance, the identical as being a unicorn or a snowflake. Totally symbolic and likewise completely distinctive. Framed beneath the three sevens, which in the best way they’re depicted, appear virtually like a halo or a crown upon the picture of the artist himself as he appeared in a portray from a number of years earlier than: primordial man, clothed within the beasts of animals, like a Viking king, his posture strong and resolute, his eyes bearing towards heaven or the longer term. This early mannequin of humanity is willfulness indomitably possessed, man himself as a power towards all nature, and all issues but unknown. Such a person would possibly exist for millennia with out grace. But to be self-impowered and self-fulfilled is sufficient. His self-image as existential wildman symbolizes the significance of non-public and non secular progress. Under this picture is a Wished Lifeless or Alive poster scribbled with the phrases ‘Powers Nice’ and beneath that the phrases Triple Play and the trickster-familiar figures of Muffinhead. Throughout the portray are glyphs of stars painted in spray paint with the starlight oozing like cosmic blood throughout the image, suffusing it with a celestial watermark.
The presence of doorways in these work can’t be understated. Firstly, they root the impressed second in an on a regular basis expertise of a metropolis dweller, strolling previous myriad doorways the place some addresses are acquainted and plenty of others in no way. The even evolving character by which residents of a neighborhood select to depart an intrinsic mark upon the bleary normalcy of buildings in working class neighborhoods provides to their aesthetic engagement within the random second. Numbers mixed with doorways grew to become the accrued duende that introduced these photographs brooding into De La Haba’s consciousness. Numbers enter our consciousness with a regularity that’s instantly disarming. They depend streets and buildings on these streets. Our capacity to recall particular addresses and place a worth, each private and common, on sure numbers, is a measure of our capacity to develop as human beings. To belong to a spot is to imagine the worth of the numbers particular to it. Say a sure tackle in response to its quantity and one instantly is aware of its distance from the middle of the town, from the key thoroughfares, and its proximity to vital sights or utilities within the space. Location, because the saying goes, is every thing. De La Haba locates the facility of inspiration and locations it in portals to new information.
This essay seems courtesy of Art Bodega Magazine © 2022. It was featured within the Fall/Winter 2022 problem as “Divining The Magic Quantity: The New Work of Gregory De La Haba”.