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Review: Carlos Bunga packages experience in cardboard

January 30, 2013|By Leah Ollman
  • Carlos Bunga's "Future Anterior" installation at Christopher Grimes Gallery.
Carlos Bunga's "Future Anterior" installation at Christopher… (Fredrik Nilsen / Christopher…)

Barcelona-based Carlos Bunga made his L.A. debut with an intriguing Hammer Projects show in 2011-12. His first local gallery appearance, at Christopher Grimes, is a more distilled effort but just as viscerally affecting.

Bunga builds structures, or fragments of them, from cardboard, packing tape, glue and paint. It's paper architecture in the most literal, material sense, not theory-driven concept but immersive sculpture resonant with the body and memory.

The room-within-a-room at Grimes presents as something of a humble temple, an irregular rectangle roughly 9 feet wide, 25 feet long and 12 feet high, with door-size openings on each side. The walls buckle and the exterior paint (white on one half, cool mint green on the other) fissures and bleeds from the taped seams.

Bunga's construction has the feel of a just-risen ruin, an enclosure with one foot in the future and one in the past. Ephemeral by design, the installation generates equally unfixed responses, feeling at once like a sacred space and a secular shanty, ceremonial yet makeshift. Low walls of cardboard taped to the ground on either side of the chamber echo its perimeter from a few feet away.

These read as a floor plan in low relief and also call to mind ancient architectural remains. Playing in the smaller gallery, a slide show of details from Bunga's paintings is but a minor postscript to the built form in the main space, a provisional structure that, remarkably, conjures both loss and promise.

Christopher Grimes Gallery, 916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 587-3373, through March 9. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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