06 September 2014

There is nothing outside the text @ Lostgens'

Entering a white box gallery, one looks around and immediately sees the circular dots stuck onto printed labels. Each red spot indicates a measure of success – a well-regarded artist, surely. The gallery attendant flashes a welcoming smile. There must be something in the art shown here…


Entering a museum exhibition, one framed painting is hung prominently on a black wall and spot-lit. The small label beside the artwork indicates the artist, title, dimensions, year made, medium, and sometimes its owner. The museum sitter’s expressionless face reminds one to be solemn. There must be something in the art shown here…


The dot and the label are exaggerated in “There is nothing outside the text”, representing art as a consequence in this capitalist world. Carlos Llavata’s amplified paintings/labels address haphazard topics beyond those quoted, his utilization of texts as visual cues humorous when critiquing modern painting genres like ‘Still life, apple in the window’ and ‘faceless selfportrait’. Exotic portraits and event snapshots are still confined to art references, while titles like ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ and ‘9/11 landscape’ extend outside the gallery space, invoking learned trepidation at the same time. A smashed pot and soiled floor are remnants from his performance on opening night, while a recorded diatribe loops within an enclosed space at the back. The eccentric presentation augments the arbitrary range of topics, where ‘Landscape of 13 May 1969, KL’ is hung above the toilet, and ‘Tiananmen still life’ states a dimension that is obviously wrong.


Text is structure. Texts impose structure. Labels utilize texts. No labels, no things. No things, no talk, nothing. Performance is heard, seen, sniffed, tasted, felt. The five senses are reality. No structure. Before structure, there was chaos. What’s wrong with chaos? Cue Carlos: "I'm not going to tell you..."


Texts are continuously coded and decoded, a necessary procedure in this digital age. Constructed from ones and zeros, narrated events and described adventures capture the imagination, but numb our real senses. Academic categories and unnecessary particulars dilute art appreciation. These reflections make Carlos’ proposal an attractive one – there is nothing outside the text. Only real life.

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