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TESTIGO / WITNESS: Popular Fiction and the Dismembered Object

Quint Gallery, San Diego, California, USA
September 9, 2017 – October 28, 2017

Quint Gallery presents a multi-faceted exhibition of new work by Thomas Glassford, along with an extensive selection from his personal collection. Part cabinet of curiosities, part ready-made surreal museum; Glassford’s assemblage offers a unique speculative, formal and fictional detour informing his sculptural practice.

Living and working in Mexico City since 1990, Thomas Glassford has immersed himself in the visual and material traces of historical to contemporary culture. His artworks are informed by a complex system of referents intersecting traditional materials and techniques, organic shapes, fragmented and discharged tools, and the original cover artworks used in the mass printing of illustrated novellas. An underlying logic links the dismembered objects, the lurid and perverse iconography of these popular fictions: sex, crime, grotesque humor, pulque vessels made with bull scrotums, and vintage pistol grips assembled to signal a subtle relation of organic geometries. This mirroring of the melodramatic violence of gender, class and race in the degraded pop aesthetics of a popular and anonymous art exceeds in irony and disobedient appropriation.

Glassford’s collections of Mexican pulp fiction original artworks from the late 1950s to contemporary, 19th to 20th century rawhide drinking vessels, and used pistol grips function as material witness for a rich and ambiguous relation to modern Mexican cultural history. The various collections, organized as a cabinet of curiosities, move into an aesthetic that Glassford has come to elaborate, re-interpret and distill in his art practice. Glassford is fascinated with seductive objects that have links to social commentary as well as concrete and singular materiality. There is a tension inherent in the objects—a fetish value connecting the narrative of the femme fatale, the utilitarianism of the castrated bull skin vessels, pocket vanity mirrors, and the intricate (if loaded) beauty of the patinated pistol grips. The duality of feminine and masculine, dysfunction and function are incorporated into his contemporary art practice and larger themes that emerge from these starting points are explored throughout.


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