Gabriel Orozco, Dark Wave, 2006
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a sculpture. Or is it a drawing? It’s so hard to tell sometimes. Gabriel Orozco’s Dark Wave is a replica of a whale skeleton – so, clearly sculpture – on which a pattern has been drawn – a drawing then – it’s all so confusing. Quite apart from the overwhelming scale of the piece, what I like about this work is the ambiguity of the thing. There’s the starting point of it feeling like a readymade that’s been worked – an approach Orozco has used a lot in works like La DS – on but in fact the skeleton is remade resin and calcium carbonate before being draw on in graphite. Then there’s the way the pattern makes it harder to quite figure out the skeleton but still somehow manages to feel like it’s meant to be there, albeit in a way that makes the piece feel like it might be some sort of archaeological find.
Gabriel Orozco, Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe, 1995
While I’m in on a bit of a ‘means of transport as art’ theme I really can’t ignore Gabriel Orozco’s Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe. Living in Berlin while on a DAAD residency in 1995, Orozco got around the city using a yellow Schwalbe scooter. These scooters, made in the former East Germany, were cheap and quite a common sight on the streets of Berlin. Whenever he saw a scooter like his parked, Orozco would pull up next to it and photograph the pair of scooters. He left a note on each of the scooters inviting the owner to bring it to a gathering outside the Neue Nationalgalerie on the anniversary of the reunification of Germany.
Gabriel Orozco, La DS, 1993
One of the things to avoid when buying a car is getting a cut and shut – a car that’s effectively been made from two wrecks, generally joining the front of one car and the back of another – but Gabriel Orozco’s La DS s a cut up car of quite a different nature. The first thing you notice about La DS is that it’s a readymade in the very specific form of a Citroën DS; but it’s immediately also apparent that something isn’t quite right. This is car, but not as we know it. It seems somehow longer than it should be. In reality, it’s not stretched; the proportions are wrong because the car has been slimmed down in an unexpected way. Orozco took a Citroën DS and removed the middle section making the familiar form even sleeker. Of course removing a section two foot wide (or thereabouts) from the middle of a car does have its drawbacks. It looks beautiful but La DS can’t be driven so turns heads only in the gallery.
Gabriel Orozco, Black Kites, 1997
For the Love of God, Damien Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull, got me thinking about another – and in my view much more interesting – human skull that has become contemporary art. Gabriel Orozco’s Black Kites is an extraordinary three-dimensional drawing on a distinctly less than conventional ground. This is a work I found both moving and compelling.