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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Masa Gallery Launches Its Inaugural Permanent Space In Mexico City

...And For The First Time Presents Two Solo Exhibitions Challenging The Boundaries Of Art And Design.

Artist and designer Brian Thoreen and multidisciplinary conceptual artist Mario García Torres disrupt existing conventions of functionality and materiality in their new solo shows. Located in the heart of Mexico City, the 18th century colonial house boasts 600 m2 of new gallery space for curatorial exploration, experimentation, and conversation around the sensibility of art and design.

Opening Reception: February 7, 5 – 9 pm On View: February 8 – April 8, 2023

Marking its fifth anniversary, MASA gallery unveils two inaugural solo exhibitions at their first permanent space in the heart of Mexico City, on view from February 8 - April 8, 2023. The gallery’s expansion strengthens its ongoing commitment to present innovative positions of the local contemporary creative community through group and solo exhibitions focusing on collectible art and design. In ‘Non-Zero-Sum,’ artist and designer Brian Thoreen explores unconventional ways of fabrication and corporeality, expanding on traditional concepts and pushing the boundaries of materiality. Multidisciplinary conceptual artist Mario García Torres presents 'The Space Under My Chair & The Music I Was Listening To'. As a homage to Bruce Nauman’s iconic sculpture and inspired by musical equipment design, García Torres explores a dialog between two series of works that shine a light on the limitless possibilities of fusing conceptuality and function.

The 600 m2 colonial house known for some of the most extravagant parties of the 1960s and 1970s in Mexico City, becomes MASA’s new home. Previously owned by great art visionary, writer and patron Federico Sánchez Fogarty (1901 - 1976), the 18th century building was the historic location of over 300 of Fogarty’s 'Fiestas del Tercer Imperio' (Parties of the Third Empire). Orchestrated with the very own brush of famous muralist José Clemente Orozco (1883 – 1949), the evenings were attended by artists, writers, and critics – all of whom contributed to the construction and aesthetics of modern Mexico. Defined by its stretched corridors, expansive space and five-meter-high ceilings, MASA revives this iconic space.

Founded in 2018, MASA's artist and design collective presents disruptive exhibitions that blur the line between art and design. By challenging its existing boundaries and through its nomadic nature, MASA gives artists, designers, and architects a platform to question the frames of functional and non-functional works, experience unconventional pathways and explore the unexpected. MASA initiates a conversation between local creatives on the expression of conceptuality and materiality in Mexican design. Driven by Mexico’s renaissance of modern thinking, the gallery has come to represent works that explore the philosophical aspects of intention and function.

Known for challenging conventional concepts and pushing the boundaries of art and design, Thoreen’s 'Non-Zero-Sum' presents over ten functional and six non-functional works, unveiling his mastery in finding progressive ways to manipulate materials beyond the conventional. The pieces on view showcase a bold exploration of shape, form, and utility, resulting in a diverse presentation of functionality and material in each piece.

This dialog between function and form is beautifully portrayed in large sculpture-like pieces, such as the two-meters candle made from 200 kilos of raw cast beeswax, unexpectedly exhibiting the object's mysterious and sensual aspect. Combining seemingly different materials comes a table made of twirling free-form rubber with cast bronze boxes and hammered copper elements, increasing the possibilities of its standard use. Enchanted with the diversity and multiplicity of rubber, Thoreen also presents a chair made solely from folded and stacked heavy neoprene consisting of nearly two tons of material while maintaining a sinuous tactility. In conversation with the collectible design pieces, Thoreen reveals a series of artworks, including a triptych of large works on paper displaying a binary code landscape by inscribing small charcoal sticks into the paper. Through materiality and conceptuality, the piece merges digital and analog. Standing between functionality and non-functionality, the triptych contains coded information, yet the information is kept secret from the viewer.

The breath of Thoreen’s current studio practice offers a continuation and expansion of his longstanding interest in making the static and kinetic laws of the universe visible, and the collision of a physical material with personal experimentation wrestling with the forces of gravity, displacement, velocity, mass, and scale.

In 'The Space Under My Chair & The Music I Was Listening To' Mario García Torres unveils two series featuring design and artworks that explore conceptuality and function. 'A Cast of the Space Under My Chair' is an aluminum stool inspired by Bruce Nauman’s iconic concrete bearing the same name. Created in Nauman’s early career, the sculpture was crafted to consider the body’s relationship with the surrounding negative spaces. In the coated aluminum version, García Torres casts his desk chair, symbolically overturning the sculpture’s purpose by turning it into a functional object. For Nauman, casting the space below his seating was a way to reveal overlooked spaces; fifty years later, García Torres shines a light into a centuries-old tradition. In conversation with the design piece is 'The Work I Painted This Monochrome While Repeatedly Listening to Gasolina by Daddy Yankee,' a series of electrically plugged monochrome paintings. The pieces were made while listening to the song Gasolina, directly influencing their outcome. Attached to the surface of the canvas is a rhythmic led light, transforming the series into a piece of silent sound equipment.

The founders expand, “counterbalancing the preconceptions surrounding the dialogue between art, design, space, function, or lack thereof is the essence of what we do.”

Founders Age Salajõe, Brian Thoreen and Héctor Esrawe fuse their devotion and expertise in collectible design in a space for curatorial exploration, experimentation, and conversation on the sensibility around art and design. Their collaborative spirit brings Mexico’s creative community together, turning MASA into a meeting point for local contemporary artists, designers and architects. Ever since their first show, 'Collective/Collectible', at an abandoned modernist mansion in Mexico City in 2019, the founders have embarked on a nomadic journey, nurturing a community of emerging creatives, such as Marrow, Xavier Loránd, Panorammmma and Adeline de Monseignat.

Internationally renowned artists, designers and architects, like Atelier Van Lieshout, Frida Escobedo, Pedro Reyes, Pia Camil, Jose Dávila and Milena Muzquiz, have exhibited in MASA’s exhibitions: 'Elementos Vitales', a homage to Ana Mendieta in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2021 and 'Intervención/Intersección' at the Rockefeller Center in New York, in 2022.

Though its home will be in Mexico City, MASA will continue to expand its nomadic journey and conversation around art and design with discussions and programs. Initiatives include MASA CASA, offering studio visits of Mexico’s most influential artists, and MASA KIDS, making the exhibition accessible to children with custom age activities. In addition, MASA plans to continue its new nomadic exhibitions globally, including an upcoming show in Paris.