The approximation of worth is a human exercise on the identical par with tutorial reasoning or inventive endeavor. It’s one thing that’s been part of human nature for a protracted as humanity has existed. The willpower of worth in response to the amassing of numerical info to match materials and chronological circumstances within the contexts of various individuals, communities, and societies leads us inexorably right into a aggressive state of affairs; but there are additionally religious and aesthetic elements to this quandary that problem us to advance ourselves. In an effort to greet the phrases of this problem on equal phrases, it helps to have an object representing high quality by which to gauge and specific the outcome. It helps much more if the thing is immeasurably complicated or idiosyncratic. Within the new work of Gregory de la Haba we’ve an exemplary mannequin of objects for reflection. They’re each work of actual objects taken out of an on a regular basis narrative and symbolic embodiments of the transformation of human company, luck, and destiny that motion between locations and values can bestow. They provide us magnificence and thriller of their mastery of great type.

De La Haba has a selected fascination with numbers. He finds them alongside the route he takes every day. They’re easy deal with numbers, usually affixed to a doorway in a haphazard vogue, the doorways themselves festooned with graffiti tags which will additionally embrace numbers. Bigger wall-based graffiti options numbers portrayed dramatically, usually referencing a variety of particular person significance. They could confer with a sports activities determine’s group quantity, or one thing much less ubiquitous: an auspicious date, one’s age, variety of kids, and so forth. Private numbers have an affinity with unintentional ones in that, for one cause or one other, they will obtain a magical vibration.  The numbers that De La Haba locates in his work are, by their very affiliation, traditionally magical, the style by which they’ve been promulgated in standard tradition attaches them particularly to the exercise of playing. This pastime is symbolically loaded and carries a close to cult enchantment. The dynamics of likelihood in figuring out a level of luck, and due to this fact of fortune, is one thing that we are able to solely surmise has charismatically instructed the need for these work. 

JACKPOT 4 DUENDE (2022), Blended media, oil paint, spray paint, pastel, and Krink marker on printed canvas; 44 x 78 inches

JACKPOT 4 DUENDE depicts a door actually lined with kinds and phrases, a single quantity ‘4’ affixed at its middle above the place an eyehole could be. Above the quantity in carnival model lettering stretching upwards on the ends like two wings, is the phrase JACKPOT, and beneath it, in a tagger’s script, is the capitalized phrase, Duende. Beneath the phrase, like sentinels on the door of a citadel or temple, are two photographs of green-glowing harlequins modeled after the artist’s youthful membership child good friend Muffinhead. Between them are the phrases “Fucking LEBOWSKI” in pink. The primary phrase we are able to perceive, it means the best quantity of attainable luck, a victory in attaining success in playing. It may be stretched to a which means equal to Eureka, which means a stroke of success within the discovery of any ardently hoped-for outcome. ‘Duende’ is  little stickier, for  it has no precise translation from its authentic Spanish. The poet Federico Garcia Lorca used it usually to deduce the sensation of an overwhelming emotion, meant because the transmitter of poetic and due to this fact existential reality, and the facility, or religious present that put the reality itself into play. To utter the phrase Duende itself is to talk of spirits and the pure energy of inspiration, just like the invocation of a prayer. The reference to Lebowski is a filmic one, a personality who’s a charismatic loser, an everyman kind like Willy Lowman in The Demise of a Salesman. He loses however does it with model, and solely as a result of he dangers every part to win. De La Haba is right here crossing boundaries to take his cultural earmarks from visible sources that additionally possess an archetypal affinity along with his personal character and aspirations.

LAZY EIGHTS presents a door and the brick partitions of the skin of the constructing over and round it in a greenish forged with a trendy graffiti of mawkish faces gazing at guests and passers-by. Falling throughout and over the faces are many small coloured specks, spherical like glass marbles, although they might be confetti, or gumballs, or technicolor hail. They type a scrim complicating direct perspective. Earlier than them, rising like spirits or electrically charged particles, are three flexible number-eights. They offer the impression of being ghostlike, as if the quantity inferred in every one are a separate particular person—an eighth little one, a member of a sports activities group, or somebody who was born or died on the age or on a day marked by the identical quantity. The three soundings of the identical quantity are like intonations of a want or a prayer, spoken for impact. Three spirits named 8 rise mysteriously as if by means of dimensions and are momentarily seen, like flotsam blown within the currents of the wind. They jogged my memory of the soul of a just lately deceased particular person giving up its mortal weight and rising slowly to heaven.  The expression within the title really refers to an air pilot’s check of applicable mastery in utilizing the load and impulse energy of the aircraft to float by means of wind currents and rise right into a state of affairs of outlined management. Luck (or its metaphor, Grace) is usually achieved by giving up management and letting the winds, or the wings of angels, carry us.

LAZY EIGHTS (2022) Blended media, oil paint, spray paint, pastel, and Krink marker on printed canvas; 44 x 78 inches

LIFE GIVES SEVENS is one other highly effective work from the brand new collection. It presents a sequence of interlocking symbols that features the three numbers of absolute charismatic energy, numbers that being prime, and uniquely solely divisible by themselves and the #1. That’s like saying they’re the identical quantity, an additional imprimatur of important significance. To say one is  seven is, within the modern parlance, the identical as being a unicorn or a snowflake.  Totally symbolic and likewise totally distinctive. Framed beneath the three sevens, which in the best way they’re depicted, appear virtually like a halo or a crown upon the picture of the artist himself as he appeared in a portray from a number of years earlier than: primordial man, clothed within the beasts of animals, like a Viking king, his posture stable and resolute, his eyes bearing towards heaven or the long run. This early mannequin of humanity is willfulness indomitably possessed, man himself as a power in opposition to all nature, and all issues but unknown. Such a person would possibly exist for millennia with out grace. But to be self-impowered and self-fulfilled is sufficient. His self-image as existential wildman symbolizes the significance of private and religious progress. Beneath this picture is a Wished Useless or Alive poster scribbled with the phrases ‘Powers Nice’ and beneath that the phrases Triple Play and the trickster-familiar figures of Muffinhead. Throughout the portray are glyphs of stars painted in spray paint with the starlight oozing like cosmic blood throughout the image, suffusing it with a celestial watermark.

The presence of doorways in these work can’t be understated. Initially, they root the impressed second in an on a regular basis expertise of a metropolis dweller, strolling previous myriad doorways the place some addresses are acquainted and lots of others under no circumstances. The even evolving character by which residents of a neighborhood select to go away an intrinsic mark upon the bleary normalcy of buildings in working class neighborhoods provides to their aesthetic engagement within the random second. Numbers mixed with doorways grew to become the accrued duende that introduced these photographs brooding into De La Haba’s consciousness. Numbers enter our consciousness with a regularity that’s instantly disarming. They rely streets and buildings on these streets. Our potential to recall particular addresses and place a worth, each private and common, on sure numbers, is a measure of our potential to develop as human beings. To belong to a spot is to imagine the worth of the numbers particular to it. Say a sure deal with in response to its quantity and one instantly is aware of its distance from the middle of the town, from the key thoroughfares, and its proximity to essential sights or utilities within the space. Location, because the saying goes, is every part. De La Haba locates the facility of inspiration and locations it in portals to new data.

This essay seems courtesy of Art Bodega Magazine © 2022. It was featured within the Fall/Winter 2022 difficulty as “Divining The Magic Quantity: The New Work of Gregory De La Haba”.

LIFE GIVES SEVENS (2022), Blended media, oil paint, spray paint, pastel, and Krink marker on printed canvas; 44 x 78 inches