Enrico David is an artist that is currently based in London who is known for his works that range across various mediums; such as his use of drawing, textiles and sculpture. Through the course of his twenty-year practice, David has exhibited in multiple renew spaces, such as the New Museum, Tate Britain and the Venice Biennale. Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release is the first major retrospective of this artist’s work to be ever presented in the United States. David offers an access point to the intimate relationship between himself and his art objects. Striking a balance between the sculptural and the figurative, Enrico David partakes in a conversation of what it means to deconstruct the body and its identity.
Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release is located in the exhibition hall on the first floor of the MCA, featuring a large open space that is divided by four unconnected white walls where David’s works are grouped by materials and themes rather than chronologically. This was certainly a curatorial decision that wished to highlight David’s “intuitive process and the timeless nature of it”. What Enrico David’s practice presents is a diversified body of work that collaborate with each other to create a constantly shifting landscape that blurs any sense of orientation and specific trajectories.
The first time we are introduced to this shifting theme is through the introductory didactic label of the art show. The label elaborates on the resistances of Enrico David from being defined by any particular time or space by embracing the nontraditional materials that gives space and agency to the mutation and replication of human forms. The title, Gradation of Slow Release, takes its name from the 2015 sculpture that presents an anthropomorphic body that is being manipulated to become a stretched, standing sculpture. The work morphs itself between stages of humanity and objecthood, desperately trying to search for a sense of identity. The artworks in the show exist in an environment of distress, as they are constantly begging the viewer to guide them through a process of self-identification.
Furthermore, the objects exist in a timeless space that cannot offer them a sense of identity besides the thirst of the human condition that seeks meaning. While crossing the unstable space created by the show, we bump into extreme forms of corporeal bodies that shift between the grotesque and the sterile. The Objects become an iconography that leaves us experiencing the unknown, reminding us about the fragility of the physical and mental, while still reinforcing the importance and beauty of transformations. Allowing a timeless space for us to reflect about the limitations and expectations about our own identity.
Gradations of Slow Release showcases an alternative to the chronological retrospectives that we are used to and encourages the audience to question not only the existence of an art career as a linear journey, but also the existence of humanity as a series of events placed in a chronological order. Prioritizing the importance of personal explorations as a part of our identity and the acceptance of constant transformation as the defining quality of our humanity.