An installation shot of Abraham Cruzvillegas' "Autodestruccin… (Courtesy the artist and…)
Abraham Cruzvillegas’s first exhibition with Regen Projects builds on the story of a Mexican jazz musician — apparently based on the artist’s great-uncle — who travels the world playing the trumpet in the height of the swing era.
A pachuco who dresses in flamboyant suits with broad lapels and baggy pants, he lands in L.A. in time for the Zoot Suit Riots, drifts through Cab Calloway’s New York and the heated clubs of Nazi-occupied Paris. He gradually crumbles into alcoholism and returns to his native Michoacán.
The sculptures that make up the bulk of the show, while not exactly figurative, echo the frenetic rhythms of jazz and the swooping lines of American zoot suit and Parisian Zazou fashion, along with some trace of its audacious defiance.
Tall, slender tangles of rebar draped with loose strips of fabric, chain jewelry, feathers and ribbons of dried meat, they look, from a distance, more like drawings than sculptures — linear compositions freed from the two-dimensional captivity of a page — or like a linear depiction of the jerking rhythms of a jazz trumpet score.
The clearly conscientious combination of unlikely materials points to the underlying spirit of the work: an interest on the part of the Mexico City-based artist in the ways that resistance is articulated, conformity denied, through the cross-cultural patchwork of style, fashion and artistic expression.
In honoring both the charge and the ephemerality of this historical moment, Cruzvillegas reveals a nuanced feel for the life and the relevance of the past.
Regen Projects, 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 276-5424, through Dec. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.regenprojects.com
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