MARIO TREJO Catharsis
bruno david gallery
MARIO TREJO Catharsis March 6 - April 4, 2009 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. firstname.lastname@example.org www.brunodavidgallery.com Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition “Mario Trejo: Catharsis” Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Yoko Kiyoi Design Assistants: Sage A. David and Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Bruno David Gallery and Mario Trejo Cover Image: Mario Trejo. Untitled III (Catharsis series) (detail), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board, 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm)
Copyright © 2009 Bruno David Gallery, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.
Essay by Hannah Piper Burns Afterword by Bruno L. David Checklist of the Exhibition Biography
Essay by Hannah Piper Burns 2
Catharsis, the new series and exhibition from Mario Trejo, refreshingly remixes the artist’s process while reiterating his core artistic values. The title has its root in the Greek katharsos, for “pure”. In Trejo’s case, the word captures his fierce commitment to creating a universe piece by identical piece. While each component of Catharsis stands alone as an environment in which the artist’s marks swarm and form, congregate and coagulate, as a series they show the tremendous potential for fluctuation within a rigid system of atomized gestures. The binary chromatics, parity of mark-making, and consistency of dimensions evident in all of the pieces are what Trejo has imposed on his own process: a purification of form and content. What results from this structure are compositions that radiate a controlled chaos and a sophisticated treatment of volume, perspective, and scale. Trejo has long been a shaper of positive and negative space, using a black and white palette to emphasize the contrast between background and gesture. The images he has created for Catharsis utilize this method to elegantly occupy the picture plane as if in a photogram or some sort of electroscopic imaging print. That is, they seem evidentiary. And like all his work, that state of seeming truth is balanced by an ambivalence of scope: Are these satellite photographs of some astronomical wonder? Or simply the extreme close-ups of the tangles of human detritus found behind the radiator or under the bed? Trejo’s dense clouds of spidery filaments occupy and transcend both the monumental and the minute. It is somewhat of a departure from his previous Idiosyncratic series, begun during the artist’s graduate studies and currently ongoing. Catharsis, Trejo’s first new body of work since he emerged in the St. Louis art scene this past year, denotes an evolution of the artist’s vision of the mark as the building block of the performance and remnant, and of the void as the arena for battles between hand and instrument, space and perception, part and whole. The Idiosyncratic drawings, with their heavy blackness imposed on the white void of virgin canvas and panel, and evocatively severe titles like Imperium, Ad Infinitum, and Struggle, privilege massivity and numerical record. They deal with conceptual influences including the history of war and the physics of astronomy, divergent source material rooted in the overwhelming and not totally comprehensible aspects and conditions of experience. Populated with anywhere from a few hundred to a million hand-drawn circles, these pieces epitomize the struggle of the artist, not just over his own creation, but over his own physical limitation. Having witnessed the artist at work, bent over a sawhorse-supported panel, furiously attacking the surface with tight rotations of a micron pen in one
hand, while obsessively recording his progress into a calculator with the other, I feel it is safe to say that this struggle is not feigned. It is a mode of creation in dialogue with Abstract Expressionism and performance that requires physical training to prevent serious hand or wrist injury. Thus the density of the circles, as they spread and cluster, is both victorious and sinister. It signifies the striving toward a sublimity whose failure is built into its inception. It is the human attempt at illustrating the overwhelming smallness of one’s own existence through the nearly pugilistic determination to quantify infinity. Paradoxical, yes, but this ambivalence is part of what gives the Idiosyncratic series its visual power. By contrast, the Catharsis series displays a lightness absent in Trejo’s earlier work. The marks no longer close in on themselves, but burst abundantly forth from multiple points of origin. Line quality re-asserts itself. The artist’s hand is still recorded in every stroke, but the resulting forms take on an energetic exuberance and almost electric pulse that is wholly new. While in the Idiosyncratic series the mark subsumes the void to the point of becoming the void itself, in Catharsis the void remains, at least in the majority of the pieces, dominant. This allows new experimentation with mathematics and optics to suggest weight, mass, and charge. Perspective, shading, and scale are elegantly and sparingly employed with deftness that now enhances the artist’s raw determination and physical endurance. Titled simply with Roman numerals, the Catharsis drawings could be iterations of the same set of marks perpetually re-configured, as if a pile of iron filings swept over and over again by a giant magnet, even as the shift from circular to linear gestures has dramatically expanded the lexicon of visual referents that the compositions can suggest. The particles begin to form horizons, as in Untitled I and XVI, thickets, as in Untitled II, X, and XIII, and follicles, as in Untitled XX and XXI, all the while resisting the finality of total classification. Clearly the artist has begun to massage his own system, an adaptability that bodes well for his future artistic viability. It shows that even within a very particular and highly structured practice, he is no one-trick pony. Rather, he has the ability to push the boundaries of his own artistic ideals in order to recognize their potential more and more fully. In this contemporary moment, when art objects are not always honest with the viewer about their origins, making, and meaning, Trejo maintains a fundamental commitment to work that contains its own history as well as its own self-evident value. That this fundamental commitment to purity can result in work that embodies such mystery, metaphysical energy, and optical wonder is a testament to the artist’s disciplined mind and unflinchingly precise hand.
Hannah Piper Burns received her Master of Fine Arts at the San Francisco Art Institute. She currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon as a multimedia artist and freelance art writer. This essay is one in a series of the galleryâ€™s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.
Afterwords by Bruno L. David 6
I am pleased to exhibit a new series of paintings by Mario Trejo at the Bruno David Gallery. Support for the creation of significant new works of art has been the core to the mission and program of the Bruno David Gallery since its founding. Mario Trejo’s remarkable and compelling paintings make him one of the most impressive artist of the gallery. Mario Trejo presents a new series of works, titled “Catharsis”, which visually explore macro and microcosmic struggle through manic mark-making. Trejo’s work is a meticulous accumulation of idiosyncratic marks that, at a distance, appear as dark and ethereal cosmic forms, but upon closer inspection reveal themselves as an expanse of scratches that crumble into a Promethean struggle. The hundreds of thousands of marks create illusion of an emerging form, exhibiting the artist’s conscious and sensitive attention to both detail and entirety. The drawings begin to expose small universes, each a relic of the arduous performance of repeated gestures. Trejo reconciles personal experience with the ideas of control and disorder in conceptual layers. The compulsive mark-making reflects the eternal battle between the artist and his surroundings, but the product becomes a facsimile of the sublime remoteness of the universe in miniature, revealing at once loneliness, futility, chaos and uncertainty. The artist aptly describes his work as a metaphor for imperium under which we all reside. Mario Trejo received his B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has had several shows in the southwest as well as the mid-west, sat on an artists’ panel in 2008, and will be the exhibitions director for the Museum of Pocket Art in 2009. Trejo currently lives and works in Illinois.
— Bruno L. David
Checklist of the Exhibition and Images
Untitled I (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 10
Untitled II (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 12
Untitled III (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 14
Untitled III (Catharsis drawing series) detail, 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 16
Untitled IV (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 18
Untitled V (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 20
Untitled IX (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 22
Untitled XII (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 24
Untitled XV (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 26
Untitled XVI (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 28
Untitled XVII (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 30
Untitled XVIII (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 32
Untitled XX (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 34
Untitled XX (Catharsis drawing series) detail, 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 36
Untitled XXI (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 38
Untitled XXII (Catharsis drawing series), 2009 India ink and acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches (50.80 x 40.64 cm) 40
Mario Trejo: Catharsis at Bruno David Gallery, 2009 (installation view - detail) 42
Mario Trejo: Catharsis at Bruno David Gallery, 2009 (installation view - detail) 44
Mario Trejo: Catharsis at Bruno David Gallery, 2009 (installation view - detail) 46
Mario Trejo: Catharsis at Bruno David Gallery, 2009 (installation view - detail) 48
MARIO TREJO Lives and Works in Troy, Illinois.
EDUCATION M.F.A., San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco ,CA B.F.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL SELECTED EXHIBITIONS 2009 2008 2007 2005 2004
Catharsis, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO Saint Louis Contemporary Art Museum Flat files, Saint Louis, MO The O Show, MicroClimate Project Space, The Climate Theatre, San Francisco, CA Cream- from The Top, Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA Site Santa Fe Biennial 2008, Lucky Number Seven, collaboration with Scott Lyall, Santa Fa, NM Site Santa Fe Biennial 2008, Lucky Number Seven, collaboration with Hiroshi Fuji, Santa Fe, NM Vernissage, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA Ways and Means, W.A.M. Gallery, San Francisco, CA Shelters II, Luggage Store Apex, San Francisco, CA Shelters I, Luggage Store Apex, San Francisco, CA Inaugural Show, Cardboard Gallery, San Francisco, CA Entropic Wisdom, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, CA Evolution-The Exhibition, Swell Gallery, San Francisco, CA One Million- A Drawing Performance, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco, CA In Excess, Foundry Art Center, St.Louis, MO BFA Art Show, School of the Art school Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL Work In Progress, Florissant Valley Art gallery, Saint Louis , MO
Artist Panel, moderated By Kenneth Baker, Arts Benicia, Benicia, CA Shelters I & II- Root & Division grant , San Francisco, CA
2008 2007 2005
Internship for Lance Fung- Site Santa Fe Biennial 2008, Santa Fa, NM Teaching Assistantship for Jeremy Morgan, Drawing I & II, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Teaching Assistantship for Meredith Tromble, Human-Animal Communications, Critical Studies, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Teaching Assistantship for Mark Van Proyen, Painting II & III, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Advanced Painting Program- School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Museum of Pocket Art- Exhibitions Director- Mopaonline.com Fung Collaborations- Assistant to Lance Fung- Fungcollaboratives.org Ways and Means, Co- Director, Administration, General Logistics
Ways and Means, Independent Student Exhibition, Founder
ARTISTS Margaret Adams Dickson Beall Laura Beard Elaine Blatt Martin Brief Lisa K. Blatt Shawn Burkard Bunny Burson Carmon Colangelo Alex Couwenberg Jill Downen Yvette Drury Dubinsky Corey Escoto
Beverly Fishman Damon Freed William Griffin Joan Hall Takashi Horisaki Kim Humphries Kelley Johnson Howard Jones (Estate) Chris Kahler Bill Kohn (Estate) Leslie Laskey Sandra Marchewa Peter Marcus
Patricia Olynyk Robert Pettus Daniel Raedeke Chris Rubin de la Borbolla Frank Schwaiger Charles Schwall Christina Shmigel Thomas Sleet Buzz Spector Lindsey Stouffer Cindy Tower Mario Trejo Ken Worley
54 page fully illustrated color catalogue of Mario Trejo's exhibition at Bruno David Gallery. Essay by Hannah Piper Burns. (Softcover, March...