Xavier Robles de Medina is an image maker. He offers us effortless pictures that open up windows, which soon become tunnels, which, before we realize it, lead us down a conceptual rabbit hole only to spit us out at different points on the timeline, turning upside-down any perceived sense of reality. Ți-a ieșit iepurele în cale, thus, is an appropriate title for a show in Bucharest, Romania, during a global pandemic (iepurele, duh!) when our entire existence has shifted slightly, but enough to change absolutely everything… for the worse. But maybe we kind of like it? Maybe change was what we were seeking, for better or for worse, and this little rabbit leads us down an unexpected path towards a new cale.
Using references ranging from today’s news, to early Cycladic Greek sculptures, to South American Quimbaya artifacts, to user-generated images on Instagram, Robles de Medina creates with a freedom unbeknown to most. Sometimes his drawings and paintings discuss personal histories and race politics. Other times, he sculpts to seek the depths of translation or relationship to a person or material. Often enough the images are pure, the decision to make them resulting from nothing more than his formal interest in them.
Heeding Another Mobile Gallery’s invitation to work in Bucharest during September 2020 to produce an exhibition housed in a forest green moving van, the 30-year old Surinamese artist opts for today’s local Romanian newspaper as his raw material, leaving it exposed. Images of masked faces accompany stories of crashing economies, infection rates, and a global death count that surpassed 1 MILLION people this week. While one might be tempted to discuss the work primarily in relationship with the current global crisis… to truly understand this artist, it is most useful to identify the core of what he is interested in here: the very particular relationships created when these current news clippings are set atop sculptures referencing early human art and epistemology. A crunching of time between yesterday and several thousands of years ago. A balance between the newspaper rendered worthless by the passing of one day, versus a timeless object that will forever prove man has been searching for truth longer than we’ve been able to record and preserve that search.
The final image created is a composition of planes; a drawing in space. There is something elemental about it: spheres and cubes, simple geometric forms. Our eyes skip from the open-mouth horse, to a smiling horned head reminiscent of a Wari artifact, to a chewed-up pile of papier-mâché left, seemingly unintentionally, upon the ground–an homage to the process, to the in-situ work. And inside, at the core of this succession of objects and creatures, hangs one small drawing in black and white pigment ink on recycled paper. It is drawn on a cartesian grid, framed meticulously, a complete dissent from the mess and noise surrounding both this place and the world at large. An upside-down reality. A different time.