What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

June 2, 2022

Jovencio de la Paz
Some Circles, Bent Pyramids, and Warped Grids
Chris Sharp Gallery
April 30 - June 11, 2022

Jovencio de la Paz

Jovencio de la Paz is a fiber artist based in Eugene, Oregon who is interested in the intersection between the hand and the machine and between traditional craft and digital technologies. de la Paz's (they/them) evocative works explore the anomalies that occur when the hand interferes with the computer programmed Jacquard loom, specifically the digital TC2 (Thread Controller 2). Developed in the 19th century, the Jacquard loom was originally controlled by punch cards that created complex patterns and now runs via computer software. de la Paz plays with the ways the weave can be mapped to pixels and though made of fabric, the compositions have a digital aura and are filled with irregularities reminiscent of computer glitches. In this sense, his work shares a kinship with Channing Hansen who spins fleece into yarn and then knits abstract forms based on complex computer algorithms. Both artists combine the hand made and technology.

Many of de la Paz's works are based on software written by the mathematician Nils Aall Baricelli in the 1950s that has been adapted by the artist and the programmer Michael Mack. As de la Paz states, "I have adapted Baricelli's original software to develop a tool to grow and evolve weave structures for the TC2 loom, capturing the growth and decay as woven cloth instead of graphical visualization. The resulting textiles are self-generating genealogies written line by line, pixel by pixel, by each pass of the weaving shuttle."

Rather than display the tapestries on a table as de la Paz has done in the past, or hang them directly on the wall, the weavings are surrounded by pieces of raw linen that have been sewn to the edges of the design, akin to assembling a patchwork quilt. The results are then stretched like paintings, extending their presence into three-dimensional space. Though made from soft thread, the works in the Bent Pyramids and Warped Grids series are complex geometric abstractions that reference Op Art. Irregular vertical stripes created by weaving light tan and blue threads ebb and flow across the composition to comprise the center of Warped Grid (1.2) (2022). The top of the weaving begins as a tight grid that evenly combines the two colors, but about a third of the way down, both the horizontal and vertical threads become looser, creating triangular shapes that form diamond patterns that recess below the surface. Similarly, Warped Grid (1.0) (2022) juxtaposes white and yellow threads to create hourglass and diamond shapes in various sizes. Some of the white vertical threads dissolve into loose wavy lines, while the yellow horizontal threads remain taut.

The Bent Pyramid works take their point of departure from the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur, an ancient Egyptian pyramid that appears "bent" due to the fact that it was initially constructed at too steep of an angle which then had to be adjusted to prevent its collapse. In this series, de la Paz's weavings play with the angles and relationships between triangular shapes as they emerge from striped backgrounds. 10 Failed Circles (2021) is a suite of ten smaller works that have the feel of children's drawings of the sun and feature woven concentric circles in hues of gray, brown, red, yellow and blue that fade to beige in the center. By adapting the program designed to produce perfect concentric circles, de la Paz directs the weave and the weft of the shapes to mutate so the expected perfect circles become distorted along the horizontal or vertical axis.

What is fascinating about de la Paz is the way they borrow from craft, art history, mathematics and digital technologies to create beautiful works that challenge expectations. Each woven section is created by making accidents happen on machines designed to produce perfect forms. By understanding and tinkering with the ways traditional craft and computer programs can work together, de la Paz has pushed the boundaries of weaving and created an ever evolving body of work. Simultaneously flat and dimensional, curvy and straight, saggy and taut, loose and precise, sometimes monochrome yet subtly colorful through combination, these pieces speak to the multiplicity within us all.