Sayre Gomez | Renaissance Collection
April 7– October 9 2022
Opening: April 7 2022, h. 7-9 pm
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo
Renaissance Collection is the first solo show in Italy by Sayre Gomez (USA, 1982). The exhibition presents a series of new paintings inspired by a real estate development project in downtown Los Angeles. This exhibition presents Gomez’s ongoing research into contemporary Los Angeles imagery, drawing on the postmodern mashup of urban sprawl, car culture, the film industry, and depictions of beauty, specific to the city.
In the Artist’s words:
In making this exhibition, I wanted to start with a suite of apartment/condominium buildings that flank the perimeter of Downtown Los Angeles called: The Renaissance Collection. I have long marveled at the sheer absurdity of these buildings. Developed by Geoffrey Palmer starting in 2001 with the ‘Medici’ he has since completed The ‘Orsini’, ‘Visconti’, ‘Piero’, ‘Da Vinci’, ‘Lorenzo’ and is currently working on the ‘Ferrante’. The development portfolio interests me for several reasons. Its aesthetic features symbolize something important about class and taste in 21st century America. The reverence for the Italian Renaissance has long been championed by right-wing political thinkers in the postmodern era, from Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. I find it particularly interesting that a potential resident, 1) adheres to this ethos (at least in some part) and 2) wants to live within an expertly constructed fairytale environment. I lived in one of his apartment developments in Valencia, California during my graduate studies at Calarts (Valencia is where Geoffrey got his start). Thinking back, what strikes me the most, more than the faux colonnades, arches, friezes, overly planted palm trees, and other faux European architectural instruments of leisure and fantasy, was the interior. Inside the apartment, nothing is on a 90-degree angle; all of the corners are rounded. This detail always stood out to me as something subtle yet important. A space where nothing has the potential of being harmful, a total fantasy inside and out. A safe environment that reflects an era of fear-mongering starting with Nixon’s “War on Crime” and “War on Drugs” and continues through the Regan, Bush, and Clinton administrations until 9-11 and the “War on Terror.” In a ‘Renaissance Collection’ dwelling, one is brought back to a time in which progress, logic, and order are central tenants for all citizens. The aesthetic champions this notion by confusing the legibility of the space, creating a feeling of timeless elegance, opulence, safety, and high-quality craftsmanship. The first time I referenced the developments in my work was in 2016, while the ‘Da Vinci’ was still in production (for the second time). In 2013 an arson created a million square foot fire at the building site. The only thing left standing was the looming steel staircases protruding from the massive piles of wreckage alongside the 110 freeway. I made a sculpture of a miniature staircase coupled with a hidden fog machine to commemorate what had happened.
The entirety of my new exhibition doesn’t live and die within Geoffrey Palmer’s apartments. I’ve included a painting of a photograph taken down the street from the Orsini on the first street bridge. The bridge was built in 1910 and modeled after the bridges of Rome. A large fire billows out from one of the many arches. The fires are a common occurrence in downtown LA. These arches have been transformed from decorative symbols of civic strength and rebirth into coveted dwelling sites for the unhoused; to the effect that arson is a leading approach to a hostile takeover. To provide context for the rest of the works, I’ve included this painting along with another that features an adult bookshop with fireworks exploding in the sky above. A way to further highlight the absurdity of The Renaissance Collection and the valence of safety and luxury it purports. The image of the adult bookstore represents the ultimate idea of escape and fantasy but is one that is also facilitated by an industry of abuse, human trafficking, and addiction; an industry that is a central pillar of the Los Angeles economy.
Sayre Gomez (b. 1982, Chicago, USA) holds an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent solo exhibitions include Xavier Hufkens, Brussels; François Ghebaly, Los Angeles; and Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin. Gomez’s works are held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; LACMA, Los Angeles; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Broad Museum, Los Angeles; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; mumok, Vienna; the ICA, Miami; the Aïshti Foundation, Beirut; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turino; Arsenal Contemporary, Montreal; the Rubell Museum, Miami, and the Perez Art Museum in Miami. He lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
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