Somedays ago, my friend (and amazing artist David Pinto) introduced me to the work of Gabriel Dawe. I’ve been thinking of candy for the last days and can’t think of his work as anything else but eye candy.
plexus no. 3, site specific installation at guerillaarts, gütermann thread, wood and nails, 12′ x 6′ x 16′, 2010
Gabriel was born in Mexico City, surrounded by the” intensity and color of Mexican Culture”. He got his BFA in Graphic Design at the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla, in Mexico and worked as a graphic designer until moving to Montreal, Canada, in 2000 “following a desire to explore foreign land”.
It was in Montreal that Gabriel started experimenting with different materials and creating artwork. This experimentation led him to explore textiles and embroidery – “activities traditionally associated with women and which were forbidden for a boy growing up in Mexico.” (www.gabrieldawe.com)
By choosing thread and textiles as his main medium, Gabriel’s work plays and subverts the notion of masculinity so ingrained in Mexican culture. On “don’t ask don’t tell”, I think the idea of masculinity subversion is specially achieved by wrapping combat boots in colorful threads and pins, materials normally associated with sewing and embroidery.
don’t ask don’t tell no. 1, air force desert boots and pins , 2009
don’t ask don’t tell no. 2, combat boots and thread, 2009
The Plexus series are his most recent work and consist of site specific large-scale installations using multi-colored thread. The thread creates massive and bold three-dimensional structures, “creating environments that deal with notions of social constructions and their relation to evolutionary theory and the self-organizing force of nature.” (www.gabrieldawe.com) The colors of threads also make us recall the beautiful palette of the mexican embroidery and weavings.
The concept of shelter and protection is also very present in these installations. As Gabriel explains:
“Among numerous other reasons, we use clothing to protect ourselves from the elements. Similarly, one of the functions of architecture is to safeguard us from the inclemency of the weather. In taking the main component of clothing–sewing thread–and generating an architectural structure, scale and material are reversed to create a new construction that no longer shelters the material needs of the body, but instead creates something that is symbolic of the non-physical structures humanity needs to survive as a species.”
plexus no. 1, gütermann thread, wood, and nails, 15′ x 15′ x 3′, 2010
“Ultimately, what I want to give the viewers is an experience with light and color. The thread is so thin, that when it is used in such a large scale it kind of disappears, which is why these installations sometimes look so ethereal. It plays with perceptions and it can even mess with your sight, because your eyes don’t know where to focus; it is very much like op art in this sense. Despite being static objects, they move as soon as you start moving. This is what is most challenging to capture in the documentation of the pieces, because you cannot capture that with the camera. You can have great photos, but they will never fully give you the experience of seeing them in person.”
plexus no. 2: convergence, site specific installation, gütermann thread, wood and nails, 14′ x 10′ x 13′, 2010
plexus no. 3 , site specific installation at guerillaarts, gütermann thread, wood and nails, 2′ x 6′ x 16′, 2010
“What is very satisfying is that I hear all the time that people go back to see them and stay for half hour, experiencing the piece. They seem to be installations that really engage the mind, and as an artist I don’t think I could ask for anything more.”
plexus no. 4, site specific installation at the dallas contemporary, gütermann thread, wood and nails, 11′ x 25′ x 25′, 2010
Gabriel now lives and studies in Dallas, where he is a candidate for an MFA in Arts and Technology, at the University of Texas. His work has been exhibited in Dallas, Houston, Montreal, Toronto and Barcelona, and you can find more about him and his work in his website or in this interview.