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Pop-up show ProyectosLA brings provocative work from 18 Latin American galleries to L.A.

Pop-up show ProyectosLA brings provocative work from 18 Latin American galleries to L.A.
"Ethnographic Abstractions," 2016, by Puerto Rican artist José "Bubu" Negrón, at ProyectosLA. (Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)

The putty-colored warehouse bearing a sign for the Fu Yuan International wholesaler on the northern fringes of Los Angeles’ Chinatown doesn’t look like a place you might stumble upon a work by Jesús Rafael Soto, the famed Venezuelan artist known for his finely rendered, mind-bending optical works. Or an installation of wooden totems by 20th century Uruguayan sculptor Francisco Matto. Not to mention the photographs of Mexico’s Lourdes Grobet, renowned for her images of Mexican wrestlers (and who currently has work on view at the Hammer Museum as part of “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-85.”)

But through the end of this month, this industrial site — which checks in at 20,000 square feet — is serving as the temporary home for a pop-up art space called ProyectosLA, a collaboration with nearly two dozen well-known galleries from throughout Latin America, including OMR in Mexico City; Revolver Galería in Lima, Peru; and Galeria Nara Roesler, which maintains exhibition spaces in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, and New York.

The show, one of many Latin America-themed gallery projects being held in parallel with the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions across Southern California, was organized by independent curators Claudia Segura, who hails from Colombia, and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, who lives in Lisbon. They worked with the galleries to created a single, flowing exhibition — one that makes savvy use of the rugged space.

The idea was not just to showcase art for sale, but to tease out connections and themes.

“The notion of the border and its understanding in a broad prism was a leitmotif of the show,” the curators say in an email. “[It] allowed us to intertwine concepts such as identity, syncretism, nationalism, indigenism, utopia, reality.”

"Superficial Exercises," by José Carlos Martinat, an artist who collects objects from the U.S.-Mexico border — presented by Lima's Revolver Galería.
"Superficial Exercises," by José Carlos Martinat, an artist who collects objects from the U.S.-Mexico border — presented by Lima's Revolver Galería. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times

In one massive room, a series of filmy, house-shaped silhouettes by Los Angeles artist Carmen Argote hovers near totems by Matto. In another, an assemblage by the contemporary Argentine collective Mondongo hangs near an installation of ceramics by Magali Lara, a Mexican artist who has been active since the 1970s, and whose works use language to explore the nature of intimacy.

A small structure wrapped in corrugated metal — likely once a warehouse office — features documentation from a 1973 performance orchestrated by Argentine conceptual artist Marta Minujín. The piece, titled “Kidnapping,” was originally staged at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and it consisted of “kidnapping” 15 spectators from an event at the museum, and taking them to destinations around New York, including a concert and an artist’s studio. It feels like a miniature show within a show.

Even as ProyectosLA mashes up geography, time periods, artistic movements and materials, it explores linkages. One room features paper art by Mexican avant-garde artist Ulises Carrión hanging alongside work by Brazilian Japanese sculptor Tomie Ohtake and a photo-based installation by Chilean poet Raúl Zurita.

“All of them dissimilar artists, from different periods of time, but surprisingly, all interested in abstraction,” Segura and De Freitas write. “They compose a beautiful narrative together that questions borders of nationalities, times and formats.”

In addition, the architecture of the site provides an interesting frame for these stories.

The notion of the border and its understanding in a broad prism was a leitmotif of the show.

Claudia Segura and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas

Chilean poet Raúl Zurita's "Proyecto Escritura Material," on view courtesy of Galería Isabel Aninat.
Chilean poet Raúl Zurita's "Proyecto Escritura Material," on view courtesy of Galería Isabel Aninat. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times

Architect Ezequiel Farca, of Ezequiel Farca + Cristina Grappin, a firm with offices in L.A., Mexico City and Milan, added a few structural elements to the space — so that art could be suspended on walls — but he has left vast areas of the old warehouse untouched. This keeps the white-box effect to a minimum.

Unfiltered daylight streams through large windows. Several rooms are clad in pockmarked corrugated metal. Others bear structures once used to support industrial machinery. The building is charged with the energy of past lives (a poignant reminder of the antiseptic nature of so many museum and gallery spaces).

To visit all 18 galleries during any other time would require plane tickets to Buenos Aires; New York; Guatemala City; Sao Paulo; Mexico City; Lima; Santiago, Chile; and Bogota, Colombia. ProyectosLA makes the art-gazing infinitely easier.

A photographic preview:

Warehouse as gallery

ProyectosLA takes advantage of the site’s industrial architecture to showcase art from the 20th century to the present.

Industrial infrastructure frames a series of totems by Francisco Matto, presented by Cecilia Torres Gallery.
Industrial infrastructure frames a series of totems by Francisco Matto, presented by Cecilia Torres Gallery. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times
An installation by Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo at ProyectosLA.
An installation by Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo at ProyectosLA. Carolina Miranda / Los Angeles Times

Juxtaposing artists

The show clusters work by artists from different eras, nations and galleries in ways that highlight materials and themes.

A 2017 sculpture by Mexican artist José Davila sits before a 2015 canvas by Chilean artist Josefina Guilisasti.
A 2017 sculpture by Mexican artist José Davila sits before a 2015 canvas by Chilean artist Josefina Guilisasti. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times
A work by '70s Brazilian avant-gardist Paolo Bruscky (foreground) sits before a canvas by contemporary Brazilian artist Dora Longo Bahía.
A work by '70s Brazilian avant-gardist Paolo Bruscky (foreground) sits before a canvas by contemporary Brazilian artist Dora Longo Bahía. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times

The Americas in a warehouse

There are artists from throughout the Americas represented, including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and the U.S. — a world of art contained in a single warehouse space.

A detail from an installation of ceramics by Mexican artist Magali Lara, displayed by Argentina's Walden Gallery.
A detail from an installation of ceramics by Mexican artist Magali Lara, displayed by Argentina's Walden Gallery. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times
Peruvian artist Alberto Borea's installation sculpture "Combis: Tupac Metropolitano, Ciudad," shown by Y Gallery.
Peruvian artist Alberto Borea's installation sculpture "Combis: Tupac Metropolitano, Ciudad," shown by Y Gallery. Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times

ProyectosLA

Where: 1667 N. Main Street, Chinatown, Los Angeles

When: Through Oct. 28

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carolina.miranda@latimes.com

@cmonstah

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