Christopher Nájera: plutón en acuario at 500X Gallery, January 6 – January 21, 2024
Christopher Nájera’s sculptural works have grown larger and more complex over his past two solo shows, in a practice he calls “world building.” Pluto is entering Aquarius this year, which is an “age,” or radial zone emanating out from the vernal equinox point in outer space. These ages come to pass when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, which is an extrapolation of the Earth’s equator out into the universe. It may be noted that astrological ages are similar to the labels we put on human generations, like “baby boomer” and “millennial.” Astrologers don’t agree on precisely when the age of Aquarius begins or ends.
The stars in this show are sculptures of modeled concrete paste, which have been formed into spiny wall reliefs and floor pieces. Even the drawings feature small gray frames in the shape of rocky gray stalactites. The motif reads almost as an extraterrestrial natural structure, untouched by civilization. This is a departure from Nájera’s last solo show at 500X, hasta que me muera, in which drawings encased in translucent pink resin were placed on the wall. This show exhibits the same drawing and sculptural prowess, with formal pairings of two-dimensional representation and sculptural volumes that contrast and yet remain complementary. It would be wonderful to view these works in a larger space where they would be able to hold more ground. Nájera’s exhibitions continue to move into new and exciting territory.
Danny Hurley: Signs of Our Times at the Dallas Public Library’s Lillian M. Bradshaw Gallery, January 6 – February 28, 2024
Danny Hurley’s photographs chronicle the most incumbent rhetorical movements in the U.S., and, specifically, when those movements come to Dallas. For 20 years, Hurley has been documenting the elements of protests, including individuals and their slogan signs. The images shown here are more contemporary, depicting protests from 2017-2023. Included less frequently in this exhibition are his portraits of individuals with their signs and their guards lowered.
These figures are exercising free speech, and the issues they promote or vilify run the gamut. The consistent energy in these images feels almost like a throwback to another time. Hurley’s ability as a documentarian is excellent; this show puts his medium center stage, and the message follows suit.
The exhibition documents the historic protests that unfolded after George Floyd’s tragic death, showcasing impactful images of people taking to the streets. Hurley states that 22 million demonstrators advocated against police brutality in 2020. The artist’s intent is clear: to let the photographs stand on their own and convey the energy and significance of peaceful protests. With a focus on democracy and the crucial conversations sparked by such movements, the exhibit aims to underscore the lasting impact of collective expression for positive change.
Kalen McGuire: A Special Type of Seed, Oil, and Light at the Dallas Public Library’s Square One Gallery, January 17 – February 29, 2024
Kalen McGuire’s compelling exhibition showcases an impressive collection of large-scale pencil drawings, each spanning approximately 4 x 6 feet in either orientation. These commanding works, adorned with vexing text, oscillate between delivering platitudes and invoking specific locations, such as an intriguing reference in one piece to “Babylon-America.”
The library emerges as a unique haven for experiencing contemporary art, particularly pieces crafted by artists with a genuine connection to the locale where their work is displayed. McGuire’s drawings, though subtly low contrast, captivate viewers with their intricate details. The figures within the compositions are meticulously rendered, enveloped in layers of single strokes, arcs, and semicircles.
A recurring motif of circle segments weaves through the pieces, offering nuanced compositional implications. In some instances, figures’ heads find themselves contained within whirling strokes, while in other compositions heavenly figures align within an elegant oval. The subtle yet powerful execution of these works underscores McGuire’s artistry. The drawings are stylized, utilizing a restrained color palette, and yet they convey a remarkable strength without relying on excessive commentary. McGuire’s ability to convey meaning with precision speaks to the depth of his artistic vision, making this exhibition a must-see for those seeking artwork that resonates with both subtlety and strength.
William Sarradet is the Assistant Editor of Glasstire