Curator: Tamara Chalabi

1 Dec, 2018  |  10 Feb, 2019

Dot Fiftyone Gallery is pleased to present Root/Route: A Personal Cartography, an exhibition of artist Pepe Lopez spanning his recent practice that will be on view from December 1, 2018 to February 10, 2019.

Pepe Lopez (b. 1966, Caracas) is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works in Paris. Lopez works in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, tapestry, collage, photography, video and performance. He has worked on major multidisciplinary projects at institutions such as the Puffin Foundation, New York City; Sala Mendoza and Museo de Bellas Artes, both in Caracas. Lopez’s practice is deeply rooted in the foundations of Latin American abstraction, whilst his process interrogates aspects of contemporary life, such as violence, terrorism, consumerism and identity politics.

Root/Route showcases the most recent development in Lopez’s oeuvre, alongside several pieces from earlier bodies of work that the artist has been engaged with for some years. They are a continuous exploration into his relationship, emotional, physical and geographic with the idea of home in its broadest meaning. The search for this place, that is at once a place of origin; a place of birth, the root or foundation, a repository of generational memory and the imaginary, a fundamental marker of identity, but also a physical space that can represent a country, a city, a house, a garden among others. It is a complex construct,that is both intangible, but also physical, that depends on different notions of space and place, real and imagined.

A recurring material that Lopez has been using in his practice is found in plastic bags. In his own words: “Plastic bags reference my everyday life, they make me feel at home, they connect me to Caracas. When I lived there, we used to find them everywhere, in stores and on the streets; they were free. They used to come in strange and striking colors that have gave me a new color chart of reference to work with, that is unique to plastic.”

Encompassing a wide range of mediums, the exhibition feature works from a series (Color over Color series 2010-18) made from found plastic bags that are attached to the paper with scotch tape to reflect this often intangible yet permanent sensation of insecurity and anxiety. They present an interaction of color that is in aprocess of transformation, as well as layers that are unstable and fragile, and suggest an intense sensation of vertigo, of down fall both in thechoice of materials and the change of one state to another. Abstract on thesurface, they communicate a deeply personal state of turmoil and anguish that references the impact on the artist, of the particular social drift extant in Venezuela.

A major feature of this exhibition is a series of 50 works (Root/Route series, 2018) of overlapping layers of worn out plastic sewn on paper exploring the outlines of the artist’s recent homes in Caracas and Paris respectively. Each individual work represents the artist’s incessant search of a route, by juxtaposing his two homes to create the ideal one.

Lopez’s two single large works (Mapa Boom 06, 2004-2018) and (Mapa Boom 07, 2005-2018) are made out of the maps of a world atlas that belonged to his grandfather. This is a recurring theme for Lopez, a merging of past and present, to appropriate an inherited and redefine it in his visual lexicon.

(Plastic Fantastic 2005-2015) is a series of works on cotton paper using plastic tape to mark this search for the root in a work with no beginning or end, symbolizing the anguish of this itinerant state of existence.

Presented in two vitrines are sculptural works (Tile Route 2005, Spiral 2013, Continuous Route 2013, House Plan 2018, The Original Story 2018, Mapworks A 2004 - 2018) that Lopez has made over many years, using a range of materials, plastic, wood, silicone, metal and sponge to create parallel exploration to the exhibition’s theme.

In the second room, the exhibition also presents a new on-siteinstallation by the artist that expands on the notion of a personal cartography creating a large map or home.

Following Lopez’s practice of using colored plastics, found and bought, this installation develops on previous experiments by the artist. Plastics are made of polyethylene, which is derived from petroleum, among other things. It is Venezuela’s key natural resource and the reason for so many of its troubles and also the trigger for many of Lopez’s works. The symbolisms are many in this piece; it is a mobile foldable objectsuggesting an attempt on Lopez’s part to narrate his place in the world against the fragility of his itinerant life, as well as a compulsive need to document current experiences in order to preserve memory that is also under fire. This new installation can be interpreted as a map, a plan, tent, home, a surface for protection. It is an outline that is both physical and narrative, of this perennial search for that root/route.

The Curator:

Tamara Chalabi is a historian and curator who specialize in contemporary art and culture from the Global South. She is the author of several publications, including Late for Tea at the Deer Palace (2010), which tells the story of modern Iraq through four generations of her family. A Harvard PhD, Chalabi is co-founder of the Ruya Foundation, an NGO that is the only Iraqi foundationfocused on enriching contemporary culture both within the country and internationally. Chalabi steers the Foundation’s main program since 2013 and in 2017 she co-curated the Iraq Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. In 2018 Chalabi founded Ruya Maps, a sister organization to the Ruya Foundation, that workswith visual artists in areas of social or political instability globally.

An opening reception for artist Pepe Lopez will be held on Saturday, December 1, from 7 to 10 p.m. Dot Fiftyone Gallery is located at 7275 NE 4th Ave, Little River, Miami. The hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday by appointment. For further information and visuals of the show, contact the gallery at 305-773-6537 or by email at