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Raul Ortega Ayala's art focuses on varied habitual themes, which he researches through a detailed and absorptive process - referred to as immersions - for a year or more. He then uses the materials and experiences that he encounters to produce 'souvenirs' or components of a series. The world of office work, food and gardening are all current concerns, and his solo exhibition at Rokeby will present his immersion and response to the office environment.
One work in the exhibition called All for Love/Todo por Amor is not strictly from the Bureaucratic Sonata series but, indicative of Ortega Ayala's process, it forms a prelude to it. For several years he has appeared as an extra in TV programmes, advertisements and movies, immersing himself, albeit briefly, in different worlds. In All for Love he appeared momentarily in a Mexican soap opera, walking through a hotel lobby in the guise of an executive tourist. The 'work' included in the Rokeby exhibition will be a simple photographic screen-shot, but the artist thinks of it more as a souvenir of a past and otherwise ephemeral immersion.
The works in Bureaucratic Sonata are made from a similar impulse, but they reveal Ortega Ayala's fascination with materials common to any office environment such as Post-it Notes, window blinds, office chairs and lamps. The series is driven by issues of idleness and diligence, repetition and spontaneity, control and manipulation that the artist encountered in everyday work.
The exhibition will include a large number of works in a variety of medium such as video, wall based sculpture, photographs and a light installation. Domestic scaled sculpture formed from envelopes, paper clips and rubber bands, will sit alongside interventions on a far grander scale: a photograph of the Aviva Tower, where office lights were programmed and blinds either opened or closed to create a monumental drawing, a boat created entirely from office lighting, a photograph of folded white Post-it Notes which seem to stretch to infinity.
Ortega Ayala subverts his viewers' familiarity with the situations he evokes and the experiences he has shared. He finds beauty and integrity in the found materials and an alternative to the everyday.
An artist's book including full colour reproductions of almost all the works in the Bureaucratic Sonata series will be published to coincide with Ortega Ayala's exhibition at Rokeby. The book's layout complements its content, conveying something of Ortega Ayala's working process and subversive response to the office world. Two writers have contributed new texts to the publication. Lorna Scott Fox, a writer, curator and occasional contributor to Flash Art and the London Review of Books, examines individual works in the context of the series as a whole. Maurice Caldera, a fiction writer and one-time office worker, provides a parallel creative response to the office environment with five short stories.
Born in Mexico City in 1973, Ortega Ayala lives and works in London. He graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the Glasgow School of Art in combination with New Yorkís Hunter College in 2003. He has exhibited in the UK, Europe and Mexico and recent shows include Bloc in 2005, organized by BowieArt at County Hall, London, and New Contemporaries in 2003. Four pieces from the Bureaucratic Sonata series were recently purchased by the Contemporary Art Society for the Paisley Museum, Scotland, and he has been commissioned to make new large-scale work for The Economist Plaza, central London, later this year. In August he will exhibit in Montreal in Orange, a festival of food and art organized by Centre D'Exposition de Saint-Hyacinthe. He has received several grants including support from the Arts Council England, the Rockefeller & MacArthur foundation and the National Fund for Culture and Arts, Mexico.
Bureaucratic Sonata at Rokeby has been generously supported by AVIVA and Corona Extra. Works have been kindly lent by AVIVA, Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council and private collections.