The Mexican architect Luis Barragán was particular, especially so when it came to light; he banned exposed bulbs in his own home. But an exhibition by the Vietnamese-born artist Danh Vo illuminates his work anew. At Casa Luis Barragán, the house in Mexico City where the architect lived until his death, Vo has made a series of interventions that explore the impressions left by the people and objects that surround a person’s life.
“I did not want to introduce any more artwork to the space,” says Vo, who keeps a house of his own in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Instead, he aimed to activate the architect’s home, a Unesco World Heritage site, by rearranging what was already there. In the hallway, he removed runners to reveal an expanse of sun-faded floor, transformed by light that even Barragán could not control. In the sitting room, he shifted a wooden butaque chair by the architect’s collaborator Clara Porset, exposing divots in the floor left by its feet. And from a central desk in the library, Vo moved the architect’s Pritzker Architecture Prize to a modest location on the floor; during Barragán’s lifetime, Vo says, “I think he kept it in a closet.”
The artist also arranged candles around the architect’s home, each dipped in Oaxacan cochineal dye, a stain formerly used for Mexican religious vestments. Their presence is both a nod to Barragán’s lasting commitment to Catholicism and a tribute to the architect’s personal friendships. Vo has placed one cluster in front of an artwork by Barragán’s lifelong friend, the painter and antique dealer Jesus “Chucho” Reyes, who is credited with influencing the architect’s use of flamboyant color. Finally, Vo brought out flower arrangements from several private rooms; those spaces were left specially for his housekeeper, Ana Maria, for as long as she lives. Danh Vo’s “Garden With Pigeons in Flight” is open by appointment at Casa Luis Barragán until Jan. 13, 2019. casaluisbarragan.org — SU WU