'Pedro Reyes and his nostalgia for the past arrive in Los Angeles' - El Pais
26 June 2023
The Mexican artist is holding his first exhibition in LA at the Lisson Gallery, focusing on monumental sculptures and references to pre-Hispanic cultures
At the center of his new exhibition, Pedro Reyes placed Stop. The sculpture is a large white dove carved from marble; here, the most recognizable symbol of the anti-war movement is also an open hand, the worker’s essential tool. The piece was inspired by the message with which the Carioca playwright Augusto Boal signed his letters: Peace, not passivity. “We lack symbols or ways of talking about the need to curb bellicosity,” explains the Mexican artist. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a race among European countries to arm themselves, undoing a lot of what the world’s peace organizations had advanced since the 1960s.
Among the exhibited works there is an appreciation for a generation of diplomats who fought to limit the strength of the world powers. In The Treaty, a 6.5-foot-tall sculpture carved from volcanic stone, two hands join in a handshake that closes an agreement. “It represents two peers at the same height; there are no hierarchies,” says the sculptor, who points out that the majority of the 95 countries that have signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons are mostly nations from Scandinavia and the global south such as Latin America and Africa. “We cannot wait for the change to come from the north. The countries of the south have significant influence. We live as hostages of the threat of nuclear winter due to tensions between the United States, Russia and China,” says the creator, who has been involved with this issue for some years.
The Treaty, a sculpture that he completed this year, is becoming increasingly relevant. At the end of November 2023, the second meeting of the state parties to the treaty will take place before the United Nations Council. Mexico will be the president of the event. According to Reyes, this continues a diplomatic tradition of non-intervention and the fight to stop the proliferation of weapons that experienced its best moment in 1967 in Tlatelolco, Mexico, with the signing of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. This milestone earned Mexico its only Nobel Peace Prize, which in 1982 went to Alfonso García Robles, a diplomat who had world peace among his obsessions.
The exhibition will be open to the public at the Lisson Gallery from Saturday, June 24, until September, with the most recent pieces that expand the themes that the artist and sculptor has been working on for a long time. It is surprising to learn that this is the first solo exhibition that a Los Angeles gallery devotes to Reyes, a prominent figure in the United States; this is thanks, perhaps, to the explosion of spaces that has occurred in the last year (Lisson itself arrived from London in mid-April), an indicator of the burning temperature of the market in one of the richest areas of the country. Before Reyes was done giving the tour to the press, a collector in sportswear and running shoes had already purchased one of his sculptures.
Read the full feature on Pedro Reyes by Luis Pablo Beauregard in El Pais here.
Pedro Reyes's debut exhibition in Los Angeles is on view at Lisson Gallery through September 1.
Image: Pedro Reyes in front of his sculpture ‘Tlatoani.’ by Luis Pablo Beauregard