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Review: contemporary Mexican artists converge in Sin Titulo (Untitled)

Work from seven artists at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery and the Mexican Consulate gallery

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Mexico and New Orleans share more history than people may realize. Not only is our city home to Mexico's oldest U.S. consulate, the Mexican war for independence initially was plotted by Benito Juarez at his home in exile in New Orleans. More recently, when we faced a grim future in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of Mexicans arrived to help kick-start our recovery. As curator Dan Cameron, founder of Prospect New Orleans, notes in his introduction to this Sin Titulo (Untitled) exhibit, both places have histories of collaborative community building. These works by seven contemporary Mexican artists reflect sleek new iterations of themes sometimes rooted in successive layers of civilizations that evolved over millennia.

  Such sensibilities abound in the work of Pablo Rasgado, whose twisted steel girders and pock-marked wall sculptures loom next to crumbled plaster concoctions like mini-mesoamerican monuments crafted by a latter day Aztec Giorgio de Chirico. But architectural forms morph into paradoxical minimalist pop art in Jose Davila's shape-shifting take on the nature of public space. Similarly, what seem like colorful wall mosaics of tiny tiles turn out to be tiny pictures in Rafael Lozano- Hemmer's Reporters with Borders shadow boxes collaged from the photo IDs of news reporters entangled in the public and private networks of omnipresent media. Gabriel de la Mora takes granularity to an extreme in works that suggest terrazzo floors but turn out to be maniacal assemblages of tiny found objects refashioned as granite- or marble-like surfaces that somehow bypassed the processes of geologic time. Pedro Reyes' edgy sculpture Disarm, a skeletal guitar crafted from metal gun parts, suggests a modern take on "swords into plowshares." Martin Soto Climent's repurposed fabric sculptures reveal soft, delicate folds that mimic fleshly vulnerability. Hugo Crosthwaite returns us to Mexico's legendary border towns with his Tijuana Bible series of graphics based on carpas — Tijuana's lurid, fantastical sideshow spectacles that remain forever etched in the popular imagination.

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