Karlos Gil | No Fish, Snake Scale

garcía | galería celebrates its fifth anniversary with an exhibition by Karlos Gil, the artist who inaugurated the space in September of 2012. No Fish, Snake Scale is a sentence from the film Blade Runner. It also points to the themes that run through the work and which are of primary interest to the artist: the relationship between the artificial and the natural; the organic and the technological; the machine; the body; ergonomics… For his third solo show at the gallery Gil has designed a fragmented stage from which to imagine a new relational model between man and machine through a living ecosystem of works in the space. In this way, he blurs the line between the organic and the artificial to reflect upon knowledge production processes of contemporary sculpture, its hybridisation with new technology, and natural and industrial manufacturing processes.

On this occasion, Gil brings up to date one of his most iconic series, Redundancy (de-extinction), with two works made out of recycled industrial neon signs from Hong Kong that have been replaced with new LED technology. The transparent tubes, where traditional neon and argon gas used to create every possible colour, are hung like newly shed snakeskins. It’s the first time in this series that Gil brings a raw object to the fore by using a technology that is in danger of extinction such as the neon tube.

The Absent Body of the Rider is rooted in minimalism’s sculptural principles to reflect upon the border between the positive and negative that is used in industrial sculptural processes. Using numerical control, he imprints the negative of two motorcycle tanks from different periods into high density foam that is commonly used for aerodynamic prototypes. This type of object has taken on great importance in Gil’s work from the past years, as it establishes a relationship between the genesis of ergonomics, expanded upon in his last exhibition at the gallery, and the shape of the body, or, better said, the absent shape of the belly as it comes into contact with the machine.

We find a similar semantic turn in the work Vientre de Máquina, where two industrial tailpieces manufactured in a tune-up workshop on the outskirts of Madrid have been covered in raw leather, emulating animal skin. The vertical position they occupy in the room, anchored to the wall, breaks with the artist’s usual logic in order to render the object’s functionality impossible, like a red herring that leads us away from the truth.

Flat Bones is made up of four sculptures that make up an artificial skeleton of sorts, manufactured in stainless steel and pointing to different body parts (legs, torso, collar bone, arm). These industrial structures evoke mediaeval armours that used to protect warriors in battle. The work brings together two types of surface: the cold metal of the external armours and the interior of the warrior’s body, ready for combat. The fact that these military protheses were made to be assembled, together with the finishes of each part, are a reminder of the fact that time will modify the reading of such objects: today, armours are studied as ornaments and not as objects of war.

Concurrently, Gil alludes to the Burmester stencils –used to decorate ornaments and cone curves– in two new sculptures under the title French Curve, where two different versions of the Peugeot lion logo (found on car models from the 30s and 50s) allude to different versions of the same referent. The obvious formal and stylistic distance marked by the different manufacturing periods come into conflict with the uniform way they are exhibited.

In Not Fish, Snake Scale, Karlos Gil pays particular attention to how objects and their meanings are transformed upon being placed in new environments, using abstraction, fragmentation, and memory to create new narratives and readings, and breaking down the distance between past, present, and future.