“I propose a visual field that wants us to multiply our sympathy for the insignificant."
Marco Maggi has a penchant for artistic alchemy, transforming the simplest or most fragile of things– from scissors and aluminum foil to office post-its and colored pencils– into works of poetic metaphors or unexpected humor. In Putin's Pencils, Maggi recreates a work constructed with bowstrings and a set of eleven Russian vintage pencils. The ensuing interplay of line, color, and light of the piece plays with the boundaries of what he calls the “infraordinary,” creatively shifting the familiar and standardized into the realm of the monumental. Weaving a complex message within a simple rubric of line and shadow, the work leads the viewer to question the nature of information and epistemological ways of knowing in a contemporary, globalized world. The colored pencil piece and drawings throughout the exhibition were also featured as part of the 2011 show, Optimismo Radical. Maggi has entangled the materiality of pencils and ideas associated with knowledge and drawing in parallel pieces such as “Drawing Machine” (six possible drawing points), 2015,” created for Global Myopia (pencil & paper), Maggi’s exhibition for the Uruguayan pavilion in the 56th Venice Biennale.
In the confines of the gallery, Maggi’s Soviet-inspired piece is placed in dialogue with a video projection and works of cut paper, which include pieces such as White Landmark and Black Letter. The artist’s carefully inscribed works operate on two registers– fast and slow– with the most intricate details of the work only comprehensible to those who engage with the piece with an intimate, measured approach. The unconventional array of materials– from the ping-pong ball canvas of Blue Thesis to the slide mounts of Vertical Complot – introduce unexpected symbolic allusions. The incised works are joined by a video art piece, which the artist claims constructs his finest statement, a philosophical metaphor for “uncertainty and the visual arts in the threshold of blindness.”