In “The Moments Between,” Rafael E. Vera presents new work constructed with industrial materials such as concrete, cinder blocks, rebar, hooks and straps—rough stuffs that are intended for extensive use at the mercy of calloused hands. Taking substances that typically connote durable exteriors, Vera has erected pieces that read as scenes found in a domestic landscape. In a piece entitled “Heavy Conversation,” Vera has fabricated two chairs out of poplar. Their blond wood and lack of stylistic references transcend the several feet between them with an emotionless, blank stare. Sprawled out and stretching over both seats, a large concrete bar snoozes atop two soft pillows—a heavy head finds rest in an unconventional cradle. Next to the chairs rises a wall that is painted a light shade of “office green,” providing a domestic backdrop for an otherwise industrial colored palette.
Each piece offers a plot of frozen, corporally scaled materials through which viewers may maneuver around and position themselves within. A hand truck stands transfixed in front of a mirror, surveying its cold, dark limbs in the delicate, reflective surface of the glass. Elsewhere, a telescope work light warms itself affront a chain link fence fireplace. We join the objects, posing with them and interpreting their stances with our own rational.
The inclusion of selected works by Jessica Bardsley, Jaclyn Jacunski, Kirsten Leenaars and Sonja Thomsen in the exhibition brings forward notions that Vera’s work hints at coolly. Kirsten Leenaars’ video is shot in Vera’s home and features the artist, his wife, their two children and his nephew. Their presence brings human face and warmth to the exhibition.
Vera either buys his materials new or creates them painstakingly from scratch, thus eliminating any possible nostalgia—there are no memories save for the ones being created the moment viewer meets art. We don’t wonder who has come before us, as there are no human fingerprints or imperfections from which to gather clues. Instead, we conduct our own pioneering explorations—the home is brand new, its warm domestic chambers turned inside out by the cold building materials that construct their layout. (Maria Girgenti)
Through February 21 at A+D Gallery, 619 South Wabash.