geometric culture

Took a trip back to the 1930’s and a journey to South America right in my own backyard with two awesome exhibitions currently on view at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

A Car and Some Shorts is the first-ever retrospective of Greta Magnusson Grossman’s work (one of the handful of female designers who defined Swedish Modernism in the 1930s). Her delicate yet powerful designs force me to question my own choices in furniture and their functionality. I also feel like it gives me permission to embrace negative space, asymmetrical lines and complete minimalism in the home. It really is a joy to walk into a space free of clutter, isn’t it? In addition to designing iconic products (like the Grasshopper and Cobra lamps), Grossman was a renowned architect making the most of California hillside lots with the use of stilts. Can I admit that standing on the balcony of a hilltop home resting on stilts is quite beautiful and exhilarating yet scary at the same time? However, putting my fears of falling down a cliff aside (blaming catastrophic movies for this), there really is something extraordinary about the marriage of a minimalist home resting on a breathtaking canyon simply absorbing the natural glory of its surroundings. It’s one of things I truly love about living in California.

The other show that I urge you to check out is Encoded Textiles by Chilean artist Guillermo Bert, who I have actually had the privilege of working with a few years back. The exhibition explores the graphic similarities between bar codes (More specifically, QR codes, which can hold up to 200 times more information than traditional bar codes) and the textiles of the indigenous culture of South America (which touches the core of my half Ecuadorian soul). Embedded in the tapestries as QR codes, created by Bert using a high-tech software, are the stories, poems, and narratives of six influential leaders of several indigenous communities. Speaking of which, did you know I used to be obsessed with textile codes myself? Of course you don’t. It’s not something I bring up often or at parties, but I had an indescribable thing for the iconography of the Moche Indians. In fact, I even tried to re-create a similar symbolic language by creating and adding “codes” to one of my portraits way back when. It didn’t pan out. It’s really not that easy. Needless to say, I admire the way Bert uses technology to explore the language and the culture of the indigenous people in addition to shedding light on the effects of globalization and capitalization in these regions via video footage and interviews, which accompany the works on display.

If you’re local, both shows will be up until February 24th. Head over to PMCA for more info.

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