Edgar Arceneaux

November 25, 2003 - February 29, 2004

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House Upside Down

Graphite, gouache on paper. Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Miriam and Erwin Kelen Acquisition Fund for Drawings, 2003.

Edgar Arceneaux’s ongoing project Drawings of Removal (1999-) is a meditation on the fleeting nature of the present and the function of memory. During the run of the exhibition the artist’s studio will be on site and the installation will feature a changing array of layered, cut-out, excavated, drawn, and re-drawn images. The constantly shifting work, inspired in part by his father’s memory of his hometown of Beaumont, Texas as it existed in his youth and as it exists today, mimics the nature of memory itself. In the artist’s own words, “the work not only represents the idea of loss or of the gap between memory and desire, but is literally active. Something is being built and something is breaking down.”

Organized by James Elaine, curator of Hammer Projects, and Aimee Chang, curatorial assistant.

About the Exhibition

By Aimee Chang

Edgar Arceneaux is interested in the relationship between artistic processes, most often drawing, and psychology, physics, and philosophy. His explorations—in the form of room-sized installations incorporating sculpture, drawings, and ephemera—favor a nonlinear and nonobjective logic, paying attention instead to unintended connections, interstitial spaces, and, in his words, “a different way to construct relationships between things.”1 In early works he placed portraits of famous figures—Spock, Tuvac, and Tupac in one work and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ralph Waldo Ellison in another—on single sheets of frosted vellum, delighting in alliteration and association while simultaneously probing the fundament of our culture. In keeping with his open-ended approach to information and with the way in which we receive information in our day-to-day lives, no distinction is made between fictional characters and real people, high and pop culture. More recent works—Drawings of Removal (1999–), The Trivium (2001), Rootlessness (2002), and Lost Library (2003)—take over entire rooms, allowing for more points of contact, an increased field of consideration, and deeper associations.

In 1998 Arceneaux and his parents took a road trip to his father’s hometown, Beaumont, Texas. The artist was there for the first time, and his father had not been there in more than twenty-five years. They arrived in Texas and found the city practically unrecognizable. Recalling the trip, Arceneaux said: “The house [my father] grew up in is completely gone, [the site] is just a grassy field with a tree stump. The geography itself had changed. They’d put in new streets—literally reconfiguring the landscape.” More

Aimee Chang is curatorial assistant at the UCLA Hammer Museum.

1. All quotations from the artist are from a conversation with the author, January 30, 2003.
2. Charles Gaines, “Memory and the Sublime: Looking for the Jersey Devil,” in Edgar Arceneaux, 107th Street Watts, ed. Franklin Sirmans (Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Revolver Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, 2003), unpaginated.


Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and members of the Hammer Circle.

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