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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Gabriel Orozco at The Tate Modern

At the age of 48, Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco is being heralded as one of the most influential creatives of this decade, and probably of the next one too. A retrospective of his work has just opened at Tate Modern showing some of his most familiar works alongside others less well known; I visited on my day off earlier this week.

There is a level of interaction for visitors at this exhibition. Various wacky sculptures are on display and you are encouraged to investigate the magic of these pieces yourself. An escalator lift sits stationary on the floor; you walk in to discover it only has a floor 1 option button, so even if it could move there would be nowhere to go. There is a fabulous ‘squashed Citroen car’ (see above) that despite having all four wheels is only one person wide. I couldn’t stop staring at it, and wanted to take it home as my car, though I’m sure as the driver you would feel embarrassingly like Noddy.

My favourite piece though was the moving billiards game that occupied me for a good while. The table has two standard white balls, and one red ball that hangs from the ceiling on a thin flexible string. One must attempt to hit the red ball with one of the white balls; cues stand nearby for one's use. Once hit, the red ball begins to swing, and the game continues. I’m no expert at average boring billiards, but I seemed to be pretty good at this propelling game, hitting the ball high in the sky,much to my delight. Richard Dorment of the Telegraph aptly puts it: ‘Orozco likes games – as long as he gets to set the rules.’

All these works are a contemporary take on Surrealism; Orozco explores the creative possibilities of often banal objects, altering them and imagining new configurations. This is particularly true of the empty white shoebox that sits undescribed in the centre of the main room, baffling passers by.

It is not just objects and sculptures though - there are a large number of photographs and drawings and these too are an important part of Orozco’s art. Sometimes it is just photographic documentation of a transient work that is long gone. The drawings are thoughtful and measured, and with little rational explanation they become very abstract. I particularly liked the Bubble drawing series that are displayed together in a small room. They are fascinating to study and resemble precise molecular diagrams.

This retrospective is Britain’s first major encounter with Orozco. In an amusing exhibition we are given an insight into an artist whose work is clever and original, full of fascinating experiment. It's not to be missed.

Gabriel Orozco continues at Tate Modern until 25 April, 2011, BOOK HERE.


  1. What a wish I was going to be in London during this art show!! Thrilled to find and follow your beautiful blog!!

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  5. Now I am wildly jealous of being in London to see this amazing exhibition! I love interactive art and this sounds like lots of fun. Great blog description, you have made this the next best thing to being there. Greetings from a designer in Melbourne, Australia.

  6. wow that artist sounds amazing! lucky you, being in london!