As someone who’s used to making small and intimate pieces, I’m always in awe of artists whose work seem to effortlessly occupy their designated spaces. One of my favorite artists, whose eye and perspective I value highly (although personal conversations with him are rare, heh), is Nilo Ilarde.
In Almost Doing Nothing, Ilarde creates visually stunning work that subverts and respects the space it’s in, gathering references and influences, invoking histories and memories, but never in a way that’s too on the nose or obvious or easy.
The signage from the now-defunct mag:net cafe, a gallery for which Ilarde has curated many shows, presents a simple statement: “place rather than thing.” In Almost Doing Nothing, there is a suggestion for the viewer to consider the space, through the artist’s own alterations to it, and what it is, and what he’s intended for it to become. In the video room, he carves out literal screens, some that look out into the other spaces, inscribed with “video of its own making.” Evidence of the process of this making is strewn about the resulting environment.
My favorite piece is, predictably, the centerpiece of the show: the work that dominates the Tall Gallery, a space that intimidates a lot of artists but one which Ilarde seems to work with with ease. The mirrored images imitate a labyrinth — “which is a straight line” — a long work, visually infinite, contained in a small space. It is a beautiful tribute to Roberto Chabet, one that is fitting and perfect.
Almost Doing Nothing is on view until 28 September at Finale Art File. Read an excerpt of Jonathan Olazo’s notes on the show here.