Sayre Gomez Reflects on LA's Changing Landscape in 'Heaven 'N' Earth'

A new solo exhibition on view at Xavier Hufkens.

Art
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Like all major cities, Los Angeles’s expansive image is constantly in a state of flux. Picturesque sunsets, spindly palm trees and the mystique of celebrity are just several of the many images — albeit surface level images — that come up when thinking of LA and will surely always play a role in its global appeal. But the less celebrated corners: the small businesses, the multi-ethnic communities that represent a large majority of the ‘City of Angels’, is increasingly at risk of being pushed out due to an increased wealth disparity between classes and gentrification — from LA’s Westside to East, down to the Southland.

Chicago-born, LA-based artist Sayre Gomez has dedicated his latest solo show to preserving what he believes to be a faithful image of Southern California. On view at Xavier Hufkens in Ixelles, Belgium, Heaven ‘N’ Earth presents a series of new paintings, sculptures and video installations that ruminate on surface versus depth and the interlude between an image’s genesis and the forces of nature.

Deliberately set to mirror the show’s title, the exhibition starts at the gallery’s upper level with a mixed-media sculpture dubbed Scale Replica of the Past, Present, and Future (Peabody Werden House), which depicts the historic Peabody Werden House in Boyle Heights that was built in 1895. The Victorian structure has been in a state of limbo in recent years. In 2016, it was nearing demolition until preservationists rallied for its restoration, but ultimately fell short due to a lack of funding — leading to the historic building being hauled across the street, where it lies decrepit amidst a tide of structural changes to the neighborhood.

Back down on Earth (the level below), Gomez creates poignant images that raises concern around the effects of late-Capitalism, such as in We Pay Cash and Family Room, as well as Lights, Camera, Action — the latter painting showing perched up tents within LA’s streets that shed light on the homelessness crisis.

Concluding the show is a basement level presentation of video works and orange-tinged windows that one can easily discern what Gomez had in mind when designing the space. Within the video, images of burned shopping carts “represent a sort of endpoint of the calamitous entanglement of consumer capitalism, post-welfare state social degradation, and petrochemical nihilism that is the signature of the present world order,” wrote a release by the gallery. “Oil has to be pumped up from deep under the ground. Here in Gomez’s basement, perhaps we, too, have descended not just from Heaven to Earth, but down to Hell itself.”

Heaven ‘N’ Earth will be on view in Ixelles until March 2.

Xavier Hufkens
Rue Saint-Georges
61050 Ixelles, Belgium

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