YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsPoetry

Review: Jorge Mendez Blake's works land with poetic resonance

June 21, 2012|By Leah Ollman
  • Jorge Mendez Blake's "The Kafka Monument."
Jorge Mendez Blake's "The Kafka Monument." (1301 PE )

Jorge Méndez Blake's works at 1301 PE are full of poetic resonance, and in many ways they operate like poetry. Reductive and thick with metaphor, they can be striking in their concentrated power and also a bit esoteric, a challenging read. The artist, from Guadalajara, Mexico, approaches language at once as visual form, manner of architecture and carrier of meaning.

In several sculptural "monuments" to different writers, simple raw wood tables serve as pedestals supporting spare arrangements of books and bricks. A single layer of bricks covers the table in "The Kafka Monument," six of them raised in the center to reveal a glimpse of a copy of "The Trial." The setup hints of a sort of captivity or entrapment, the daunting irregularities that comprise the theme of Kafka's text.

Two other groups of work in this uneven but intriguing show address poetry as it appears on the page. Several wall paintings take their form from the white space around specific passages of text. They bring to mind redacted documents, but are too vague to elicit much interest.

More engaging are drawings that replicate single pages from poetry volumes. The fidelity and diligence of the re-inscriptions carry emotional heft, and small alterations reinforce this: Blake's setting one phrase of Poe's in red, or causing the final lines of a poem describing the "after-quiet" of a battlefield to fade from black to lighter and lighter gray.

These works on paper invoke with great eloquence the contrasts at play (in both words and images) between the animate and the still, sound and silence, presence and absence.

Jorge Méndez Blake, 1301 PE, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 938-5822, through July 14. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Los Angeles Times Articles