Method making: Wilfredo Prieto embodies every aspect of Kurimanzutto

Method making: Wilfredo Prieto embodies every aspect of Kurimanzutto

Over the past two decades, Cuban artist Wilfredo Prieto has earned a reputation as a ’superminimalist’ for his ability to tease out the sublime in ordinary, oft-overlooked objects (fruit, coins, liquids, matches.) His delicate interventions release them from their quotidian identities, turning them into utterly intoxicating sculptures (from a cubed watermelon, to a jumble of razor wire mimicking a cloud accumulation, and a flying helicopter tethered to a table.)

For his first solo exhibition with Mexico City’s Kurimanzutto, ’You can’t make a revolution with silk gloves’, he moved to the city a month and a half prior to the 28 May opening and used the gallery as his studio. ’The main idea was to intervene the whole gallery,’ says Prieto. ’The street, the reception, the kitchen, even the garden, thinking on the architecture and the function of each spot.’

To wit: he littered the cracks in the asphalt of the street outside the gallery with the dust of ten peso coins, while the floor and front wall of the reception area are joined in a Fred Sandbeck-style with an extended paper clip. Inside the interior courtyard, a plant-filled vestibule spouts call-in numbers from Cuban radio DJs, while the flashlight of a smartphone on the opposite wall ostensibly sheds light on a rope that runs into the main gallery and connects to a 20 ft piece of rebar. Above the rebar, hanging from a string, is a lone red alstroemeria flower that seemingly overlooks a folded stage curtain and a McCracken-esque lean-to sculpture made from plates of glass sourced from a local window shop.

The main gallery’s corners are anchored, respectively, by a fan that blows a single piece of hair attached to a raisin and ten clippings from the artist’s fingernails. Meanwhile, in the rear courtyard Prieto has scented the tropical garden with Chanel No. 5, filled two drawers in the kitchen (one with table salt; the other with Maldon), and in the upstairs project space a tomato can filled with magnets rolls from one side of the room to the other, labouriously scratching a gesture into the back wall. 

’One has mental associations that allow us to associate objects with one idea and another naturally and spontaneously. I take full advantage of the symbolic connotation that the object has,’ says Prieto. ’These [objects] work independently, but in another context they may have other meanings.’

Despite the dark Stalinist overtones of the show’s title, the unexpected connections in Prieto’s organic interventions seem more applicable to the words of Che Guevara: ’The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.’

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