Plexus No. 10: Materialising the Structure of Light - An exhibition by Gabriel Dawe

Currently working and residing in Dallas, but born and raised in Mexico City, it is with great pleasure that The National Centre for Craft & Design presents Gabriel Dawe’s UK premiere appearance, here in the East Midlands.

First UK show

The exhibition will centre around a new commission from the artist’s awe-inspiring Plexus series - the largest structure Dawe has ever attempted. Developing out of the artist’s practice of embroidering on clothing, and inspired by the traditional richly hued embroidery of his native Mexico, the Plexus installations use colour to dazzling effect. Utilising rainbow – hued Gϋtterman thread to produce a disorientating effect reminiscent of Op Art, the installation will transform the entire main gallery. Giant veils of shimmering colour and line, stretching from floor to ceiling, will create an immersive environment which visitors will be invited to walk through, experience, and contemplate.

Citing Anish Kapoor as a major influence, Dawe creates complex and often vertigo inducing spatial structures, which direct the viewer through space. Accordingly, they emulate the invisible forces which shape our existence; the social norms, rules and expectations which determine who we are. In this, Dawe references theorist Michel Foucault’s notion of biopolitical structures of power, which are used to control the individual. However, whilst for Foucault such structures were overwhelmingly malign, Dawe sees them more ambiguously. As with architecture and clothing, which Dawe’s installations evoke, they can control and limit, but also protect and support. In giving visual expression to these webs of forces, the artist alludes to evolutionary theory, microscopic imagery and the patterns inherent in nature, drawing our attention to the ‘invisible order amidst the chaos of life.’ This stunning installation makes the intangible visible, giving form to structures which exist at the very edges of our comprehension.

After an initial career as a graphic designer, Dawe started experimenting and creating artwork which eventually led him to explore textiles and embroidery—activities traditionally associated with women and which were forbidden for a boy growing up in Mexico. Here, the use of embroidery – albeit on a huge scale - renders the work subversive of notions of masculinity and machismo that are so ingrained in his culture. As a male artist working with inherently ‘female’ materials, Dawe implies that traditional gender roles may be learned rather than natural, and can therefore be rejected. Similarly, installation straddles the boundaries between textiles, architecture and sculpture.

Find out what the Kesteven and Sleaford Young Journalist team thought of the exhibition. Their article and short film is now up on the website:

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