Ode to Futility
Talley Dunn Gallery
August 27 – December 10, 2022
Talley Dunn Gallery is delighted to announce a major exhibition of new works by internationally celebrated artist Gabriel Dawe. With this exhibition Dawe brings together his studio practice and his site-specific work to create an immersive and glorious environment. Ode to Futility marks Dawe’s first monumental site-specific installation at the gallery alongside new sculptural works by the Mexican-born, Dallas-based artist. Spanning one hundred feet in length, Dawe’s most recent Plexus installation transforms the Main Gallery through a complex system of multicolored sewing thread that creates spellbinding chromatic environments and challenges our perceptions of space and color. For the first time, Dawe has created an environment resplendent with a variety of media, as he intermingles his sculptural works, mixed media works, and a site-specific installation together in one exhibition.
The Tower of Babel, it is said, was built out of man’s arrogance and hubris; an attempt to one-up God and try to reach a divine realm. But what if that is a misreading of its meaning?
As human beings, we are often captive to the whims of our inner turmoil. Our search for meaning can very easily fall into despair, as we endlessly search the world for that which we feel is missing in our lives. There’s a yearning that pushes us to embark on impossible journeys to satisfy a relenting thirst that has no respite. Misguided attempts to quench this thirst prove to be utterly in vain.
I see the myth of the Tower of Babel as one of such attempts; the most epic exercise in futility. Its builders, attempting to reach towards God as if to seek an answer to satisfy that inner question of meaning, create a monumental structure to reach heaven; a doomed attempt because they’re trying to reach something immaterial by material means. No matter how high they would build a structure, the Babylonians would still be earth-bound. Yet, regardless how misguided this exercise in futility, I cannot help but to feel an immense sense of awe at the ingenuity and skill required to build such a megalithic structure.
To be standing in front of it would have been as impressive as standing in front of the great pyramids of Egypt, if not more so. Indeed, I would venture to say, art—and perhaps the vast majority of human endeavor—is in one way or another a version of the Tower of Babel. In reality, turning inwards would be a more fruitful exercise.
In my life’s journey, I’ve tirelessly searched inside and outside of myself for answers. I cannot claim I’ve found any, but I’ve come to realize that the most insightful journeys are inward. I’ve had glimpses of the transcendent that make everything in the outside world pale next to them. And yet, I keep making art. I keep looking at art, searching in the outside world for things to act as mirrors as if to corroborate those glimpses of transcendence and make them even more real within myself. After all, I’m still of this world and in this life. I know it is more than likely futile; yet, I continue to make art in the hopes that my efforts function as some kind of signpost, pointing to an inner river whose waters are the only thing capable of quenching our thirst.
Gabriel Dawe, August 2022
Dawe received an MFA from the University of Texas at Dallas where he currently lives and works. His work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Courtauld Institute, London, U.K.; the U.S. Consolute in Monterrey, Mexico; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; and Museum Rijswijk, the Netherlands. Dawe has had solo exhibitions at the Toledo Museum of Art, OH; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX; The National Centre for Craft and Design, Lincolnshire, UK; Newark Museum, NJ; Brighman Young University Museum of Art, Provo, UT; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, San Antonio, TX; and The Luminary Arts Center, St. Louis, MO to name a few. Dawe’s work has been collected by the Amarillo Museum of Art, TX; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Long Beach Performance Art Center, CA; Newark Museum, NJ; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; University of Texas at Dallas and the U.S. State Department. Dawe lives and works in Dallas.