In 2009, Jorge Méndez Blake filled the ground floor of the gallery with a monumental installation, unexpectedly bringing together William Shakespeare and Karl Marx. For this project, he is occupying the Wunderkammer, with a work that refers to Kazimir Malevitch, one of the major plastic artists of the 20th century. The Red Library alludes to a work painted by the Russian artist in 1932 entitled the Red House, which is currently at the Russian Museum in Saint-Petersburg.
On the one hand, it is a way of opening a first chapter of the project The Constructivist Library which he will be presenting this year at Art Basel Miami with Meessen De Clercq, and on the other hand, it enables him to combine sculpture and painting for the first time.
The canvas which inspired Jorge Méndez Blake could pass almost unnoticed in the work by Malevitch, because it is not emblematic of the Suprematist period which made him famous, but is very interesting due to the disturbing or even ghostly presence of a large red building in the middle of the composition.
This house, where we know nothing of the interior layout, is set right in the middle of a terra incognita and becomes, for Jorge Méndez Blake, a library in which our gaze is lured in and can become lost among the mirrors and bookshelves. The size and austerity of the construction give the sculpture a mausoleum-like appearance.
The wish to reproduce a different version of the painting adds an element of confusion, since the perspective chosen by Méndez Blake is a landscape view in which the red building (house or library?) is barely discernable, but lends itself perfectly to the re-appearance of a distant past. In general, one can say that the imaginary inhabits the documents stored in the library, and that in its silence, it creates a slowly-maturing 'elsewhere'.
A polymorphous artist who works in sculpture, drawing, video and performance Méndez Blake is continually taking an interest in the potential of libraries, or perhaps their utopianism. Having dreamed up wall-libraries as frontiers between Israel and Palestine, between the United States and Mexico, he has also dreamed up extensions of emblematic libraries of cities or countries. These weave between themselves a network where the concepts of memory and recollection meet those of wandering and utopia, where generosity and conviviality intertwine with knowledge and popularity.