Yeni Mao’s best-known works had been surprisingly absent from his first solo present in Mexico City. His freestanding sculptures created from inflexible industrial supplies adorned with leather-based, minerals, chains, ceramics, and spikes have been proven in lots of pop-up exhibits and, final 12 months, in a gaggle exhibition at Museo Tamayo. Those items often function brilliant colours and exude an odd have an effect on: they’re horny, BDSM-tinged, hung with whips and cuffs, and on the identical time counsel a commentary on vernacular makes use of of supplies. Mao, who studied artwork in Canada and has been based mostly in Mexico City for just a few years, appears obsessive about the Mexican custom of plastering tile on surfaces and with the uncovered rods on so most of the metropolis’s buildings. The items had been additionally heavy on destructive house, with poles and wires framing vacancy, rocks and leather-based straps hanging within the air; their cage-like armatures evoked the often-unacknowledged restraints that structure imposes on our our bodies.
In Mao’s newest exhibition, at Campeche, his curiosity in native structure and selection of main supplies remained regular, however the works’ kinds had been extra oriented towards the previous. At the middle of the gallery sat fig 33.1-5 yerba mala (2021), a fancy platform that emulates the form of the numerous stepped pyramids in Mexico however is rendered in a collection of darkish metal modules that maintain, assist, and restrain extra parts comprising minerals, metallic, leather-based, and ceramic. Whereas Mao’s prior works tended to face round like lone, colourful, kinky people, this sculpture entails extra interconnected items and a extra dynamic collective stance. At the very entrance sits a large teal cat’s paw, claws out. Behind it, just a few of the modules maintain gold- and nickel-plated volcanic rocks, maybe Central Mexico’s most considerable materials. Other garnishes embrace leather-based straps, however the ceramic parts are essentially the most putting. A metal platform in the midst of the work suspends two bulbous, lunglike kinds fabricated from crimson ceramic punctured by white braces which have a medical aptitude. At the very again, a curved cylindrical kind in black and white with spiky fins dangles from one other module. Above it’s one other teal paw with the menacing element of a pinky nail changed by sharp metallic. Mao’s pyramid involves articulate a physique, however a nonhuman one: the almighty jaguar of so many Mesoamerican legends. It’s as if the restricted physique of earlier works has come into newfound energy—inside, or despite, sure constraints.
The remainder of the present displayed Mao’s additional experiments along with his roster of supplies. Fig 33.6 to put within the nice metropolis (2022) is a superbly detailed gold-plated chain that hung from the ceiling and coiled on the ground, that includes 5 pairs of leather-based cuffs on the high. Continuing this formal thread are a knot of two white ceramic snakes evocatively titled fig 27.3 i’m by no means like this when i’m not with you (2022) and a black serpent dangling from its midsection in a punitory trend, coiling on itself, virtually bashful. Mao’s allusions to extremely symbolic legendary creatures—nice felines, snakes—juxtaposed with the fabric and literal vocabulary of intercourse play, appeared to posit the chance that data could be discovered, or made, within the ungoverned experiencing of our our bodies, inside and outside.
A bizarre addition to the group was fig 32.01 blossom (2021), a collection of organic-looking, pink ceramic plates that coated a column within the gallery. The items’ fleshy texture, holes, and sprouting horns counsel an experiment gone flawed, like impulse-buying a brand new lotion and ending up with a rash. Given its mix-and-match assortment of objects, Mao’s present felt transitional, a stage between his bleary-eyed obsession with native development and design and a extra experimental method to its supplies. The newest sculptures, though their inner juxtapositions are generally onerous to learn, appear meant to stability future embodied wishes with previous constructed aesthetics.