Essay: Temporal Strata

by Paul D'Agostino

This essay was composed ex situ to accompany Brooklyn-based Slag Gallery’s exhibition booth at Volta9 in Basel, Switzerland, during Art Basel 2013. 

A work by Naomi Safron-Hon in Volta9 Basel.

A work by Naomi Safran-Hon in Volta9 Basel.

Working in a range of mixed media practices and to meta-expressive ends now sociological, now environmental, now political, the three artists featured in Volta9 by Brooklyn-based Slag Gallery—Dumitru Gorzo, Hector Dionicio Mendoza, and Naomi Safran-Hon—find common conceptual ground in notions of intersecting, overlapping and materially layered chronologies.

Slag's booth at Volta9 Basel. Left, Dumitru Gorzo. Right, Naomi Safran-Hon. Below, Hector Dio Mendoza.

Slag’s booth at Volta9 Basel. Left, Dumitru Gorzo. Right, Naomi Safran-Hon. Sculpture by Hector Dionicio Mendoza.

Painting atop large prints of color, black and white or ambered photographs of people in either definitively urban or patently rural settings, Gorzo deploys bold colors and energetically sure, candid brushstrokes to create stratified picture planes in which figures portrayed photographically are partially obscured or reconfigured by abstractly painted interlopers, and in which mixed personal nostalgias—at times geographically immediate, at times temporally distant, at times allowing the personal to give way to the societal—feed into and off of one another’s images in uncompromisingly vivacious, profoundly revivified compositions.

Dumitru Gorzo, Gulps, Hiccups and Other Mores, 2013.

Dumitru Gorzo, Gulps, Hiccups and Other Mores, 2013.

Bound to arrayed geographical localities as a result of incorporating found objects into the mix, Mendoza’s sculptures tend ultimately toward the geological. Like the readily legible chapters of time and terrestrial torque in metamorphic rock, the visual divisibilities and material morphings in Mendoza’s creations speak to change over time, environmental and technological alike, and to how one’s sense of self, substance and place might evolve and alter therewith.

Hector Dionicio Mendoza, Nube/Cloud, 2013.

Hector Dionicio Mendoza, Nube/Cloud, 2013.

Sculpturally photographic and photographically sculptural, immediately curious in their delicate muscularity, the works of Safran-Hon are so rich in material and conceptual relief that they appear to cleave away from the dimensions that bind them, or from the frameworks that compositionally bound them. Incorporating deeply tactile photographs of dilapidated homes, peeling walls and domestic desuetude in Wadi Salib, in her hometown Haifa, with the rugged medium of cement and the fragile materiality of lace, the Brooklyn-based artist depicts structural spaces that quake with processes of destruction—that both suffer under the forces of conflict and heave back against them, much like the broader political context imbuing these works with historical relevance.

Slag's booth at Volta9 Basel.

Slag’s booth at Volta9 Basel.

Slag Gallery is located at 56 Bogart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. More information about the gallery and its artists at