London-based Argentinian artist Sofía Clausse weaves together semiotics and spirituality in “Labyrinth,” her debut solo exhibition in the United States, on view through June 24 at Municipal Bonds in Minnesota Street Project. Themes of duality and interconnectivity are present throughout the paintings and works on paper, interlacing the tactics of intuitive material choices and line with a thoughtful exploration of linguistics.
Just outside the gallery entrance on the exhibition vinyl, a stylized blue star takes the place of the dot in the first “I” in “Municipal Bonds,” enmeshing this symbol with text from the onset. This subtle intervention sets the stage for Clausse’s exploration into a community of signs and symbols—or in other words, how a group of people comes to imbue meaning onto lines and shapes. Variations of the 17-pointed star appear throughout the paintings and works on paper in the exhibition. By centering the symbol, Clausse adds a spiritual element to her works. In part, they seem to hold the artist’s immaterial understanding and openness to receiving guidance from her surroundings, materials, experiences, and community.
Clausse’s woven work on paper “XVII THE STAR” gives insight into the symbol’s frequent occurrence in its reference to the titular tarot card, which depicts a woman kneeling with one foot on the ground and one foot in a body of water while simultaneously pouring liquid onto both surfaces. Above her, the stars shine, illuminating and guiding her actions. Although there are many interpretations of this card, many traditional readings deem it an indication of renewal and harmony with one’s conscious and subconscious. Clausse used a back-strap loom—a weaving tool affixed to one’s body to offer an agile and on-the-go method for constructing textiles the width of one’s waist—to craft “XVII THE STAR”‘s woven structure. The humble materials in this piece are refashioned from her other works, deepening its regenerative ethos.
Shared experience, language, and symbolism coalesce in the energetic installation set against the gallery’s east wall. Words, symbols, and lines intersect, passing through three framed works on paper, the “Triple Chain Series 1-3.” Like the strands that make up the structure of textiles, here lines pass through each other, binding together text—labyrinths, tools, writing, magic, time, chance, traces, among others. Four drawings of a coil, an ouroboros, a clock, and a curled creature punctuate the wall installation, like the radius of a compass. These works of “Triple Chain Series 1-3” are centered within the web of language and symbols, each mirroring the undulating shape of the larger wall installation. White strands of paper marked with black parallel lines are crumpled together, leaving no trace of a beginning or end to the loops. For this series, Clausse used a press to flatten the painted strands of paper, embracing chance in her process. Though similar in composition, each piece in the series is unique, reacting to the weight and circumstances of its creation.
Many of the works in the exhibition share this vibrancy. As does Clausse’s process of recycling work, these pieces adapt and evolve, mirroring the elemental and physical cycles of life. The exhibition captures the gravity of the artist’s existential exploration of what it means to navigate the interlocking maze of experiences that constitutes being alive. Here, the labyrinth refers to our relationships with others in the midst of time passing, beautifully capturing the resonance and magical realism that surrounds us all, if we are open.
SOFÍA CLAUSSE: LABYRINTH through June 24. Municipal Bonds at Minnesota Street Project, SF. More info here.