The approximation of worth is a human exercise on the identical par with tutorial reasoning or inventive endeavor. It’s one thing that’s been part of human nature for an extended as humanity has existed. The willpower of worth based on 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 state of affairs; but there are additionally religious and aesthetic facets to this quandary that problem us to advance ourselves. With the intention 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 outcome. It helps much more if the article is immeasurably advanced or idiosyncratic. Within the new work of Gregory de la Haba we’ve 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 specific fascination with numbers. He finds them alongside the route he takes every day. They’re easy tackle numbers, typically affixed to a doorway in a haphazard vogue, the doorways themselves festooned with graffiti tags which will additionally embrace numbers. Bigger wall-based graffiti options numbers portrayed dramatically, typically referencing a lot of particular person significance. They might confer with a sports activities determine’s workforce quantity, or one thing much less ubiquitous: an auspicious date, one’s age, variety of youngsters, and so forth. Private numbers have an affinity with unintentional 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 way by which they’ve been promulgated in fashionable tradition attaches them particularly to the exercise of playing. This pastime is symbolically loaded and carries a close to cult enchantment. The dynamics of probability in figuring out a level of luck, and subsequently of fortune, is one thing that we are able to solely surmise has charismatically steered the need for these work.
JACKPOT 4 DUENDE depicts a door actually lined with kinds and phrases, a single quantity ‘4’ affixed at its heart above the place an eyehole could 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. Beneath 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 purple. The primary phrase we are able to perceive, it means the best quantity of attainable luck, a victory in attaining success in playing. It is also stretched to a which means equal to Eureka, which means a stroke of success within the discovery of any ardently hoped-for outcome. ‘Duende’ is little stickier, for it has no precise translation from its unique Spanish. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca used it typically to deduce the sensation of an overwhelming emotion, meant because the transmitter of poetic and subsequently existential fact, and the ability, or religious 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 sort like Willy Lowman in The Dying of a Salesman. He loses however does it with fashion, and solely as a result of he dangers all the pieces 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 surface of the constructing over and round it in a greenish forged 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 may very well 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 provide the impression of being ghostlike, as if the quantity inferred in each are a separate particular person—an eighth baby, a member of a sports activities workforce, 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 truly refers to an air pilot’s check of applicable mastery in utilizing the burden and impulse energy of the aircraft to float by means of wind currents and rise right into a state of affairs of outlined management. Luck (or its metaphor, Grace) is commonly 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 collection. 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 Number one. That’s like saying they’re the identical quantity, an additional imprimatur of important significance. To say one is seven is, within the up to date parlance, the identical as being a unicorn or a snowflake. Totally symbolic and likewise completely distinctive. Framed beneath the three sevens, which in the way in which 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 stable and resolute, his eyes bearing towards heaven or the long run. 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 religious development. Beneath 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. At the start, 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 by no means. The even evolving character by which residents of a neighborhood select to go away 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 rely streets and buildings on these streets. Our skill to recall particular addresses and place a price, each private and common, on sure numbers, is a measure of our skill 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 based on its quantity and one instantly is aware of its distance from the middle of town, from the key thoroughfares, and its proximity to essential sights or utilities within the space. Location, because the saying goes, is all the pieces. De La Haba locates the ability 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”.