What is the meaning of these various installations, objects, wall paintings or video art, anyone who walks through the exhibition “The Factory” by Carlos Amorales is prone to wonder. To what do all these completely stuffed exhibition rooms amount? Why do paintings and fabrics fill the walls from the ceiling to the floor, and are the objects and installations arranged in a way that you can barely walk past them?

One of the most appealing artworks is the installation “Black Cloud” – covering several adjoining rooms in the museum with black moths. Entering the space is like entering a surreal dream in which little insects made of black paper cover the windows, walls and the ceilings. Amorales got the idea from a dream. Because of all the tiny butterflies, the sleek frames of the museum’s rooms disappear and give the space a disorienting perspective. The space as it was, is denied.

Black Cloud, Carlos Amorales, 2011

In a room further along the exhibition you will find a huge dead black bird lying on the ground, the sculpture “Dark Mirror”. It consists of large pieces of black resin that together form a blackbird. Due to the reflective surface, the artwork resembles a broken mirror, or – in this case – a broken bird. Why is this bird broken? Ironically, the museum text refers to the black stickers, sometimes in the form of a bird, that are attached to large windows to prevent birds from flying into it.

Dark Mirror, Carlos Amorales, 2008

Beyond creating installations and sculptures, Amorales is primarily a draftsman. Huge drawings decorate the walls of the Stedelijk Museum. The repetitive nature reminds one of Keith Haring’s drawings. Although Amorales quite literally opts for a medieval formal language, his subjects and texts give his drawings an obscene character. The way Amorales presents these figures is a reference to a world where there is no clear distinction between private views and public statements.

Learn to fuck yourself, Carlos Amorales, 2017

The repetitive nature of his work, the obscenity of the accompanying texts, the dripping letters, the denial of existing spaces… it all feels very contemporary and somewhere in the back of my head the question arose: would Amorales perhaps also have a link with Street Art?

The answer is yes. The artist used the stencil technique common in Street Art for his gigantic mural “Ghost Demonstration”. The stencils were held up by assistants, whose silhouette figures were sprayed along the length of the wall. The ghostly contours of the human figures point to historically important moments in different times and different cultures. At the same time, the importance of being socially and politically involved in the present is reinforced, because many of the slogans the figures hold up resonate with the current cultural climate. For example “I’ve lost that Disney feeling”, “Make racists afraid again” or “It’s time to have a crisis”.

Ghost Demonstration, Carlos Amorales, 2019

Carlos Amorales was born and raised in Mexico City, where he now lives and works. He studied for years in Amsterdam (Gerrit Rietveld Academie) and has had numerous residencies in Europe and the United States. As a result of this broad international experience, his interests bridge the gap between multiple cultural spheres, and the artist often tries to intertwine formally disparate aspects of these various areas or influences. The exhibition is visually gripping and mentally challenging. Having stayed in Amorales’ universe for a while, you’ll find it takes time for its effect to wear off. Let’s hope it doesn’t. His work, and the social themes they embody, deserve it.

The exhibition can be seen from 23 nov 2019 t/m 17 mei 2020 at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

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