The human body is a functioning production line comprised of flesh and blood and organs that churn out our very existence. Each of our individual cells is assigned a specific role in the womb. They trigger infancy, childhood, adolescence, and so forth. These cells do their jobs until they can’t, and when enough of our collective parts are unable to do their work, life ceases.
Prior to the French Revolution, communities were structured like a body. Like the cells within us, each person’s lot in life was set more or less in stone before they were born, and humans procreated to supply the community with more people to fulfill their roles when they perished. Then the traditional cells within the community refused to comply with their pre-assigned work, and the old-world system faltered and died. People moved from rural enclaves to cities en masse. The transition from Gesellschaft to Gemeinschaft made it easier for people to improve their stations in life, but it also meant that each of our bodies were no longer necessary for the whole of society to function. Suddenly, your life, your work could be completely unnecessary. Without an assigned role, it is possible to have no role at all. We can fall through the cracks without anyone noticing.
Over the course of creating Work / Life, Larry Madrigal’s third solo exhibition with Nicodim, the artist and his wife conceived their second child. He watched his wife’s body change while his pretty-much stayed the same. She is a mother, he is still Larry. This body of work is the artist’s negotiation of his predetermined biological roles and his place in society, for which there is no longer a blueprint or safety net. He thrives in arguments between stubborn flesh, which refuses to behave in a manner other than it was designed, and the chaos of contemporary life: the way there’s no great place for him to view his wife’s sonogram in the doctor’s office; the way to find time for sex with his pregnant wife with a young daughter in the house; the way the way his belly folds in a post-coital viewing of The Bachelorette. Work / Life is the artist’s celebration of the struggle to carve out a stable community for his and his family’s bodies in a world that doesn’t always care or listen.
Larry Madrigal (b. 1986, Los Angeles) lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona. Madrigal recently completed his MFA at Arizona State University in Tempe. His paintings are a suspension and celebration of the precariousness by which our most mundane daily rituals are balanced on a precipice just above total anarchy. Recent exhibitions include Larry Madrigal: How Dare We Now Live, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2021; solo), Larry Madrigal: Scattered Daydream, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020, solo); When You Waked Up the Buffalo, Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2020); Painting the Figure Now II, Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wasau, Wisconsin (2019); New Art Arizona, Shemer Art Center and Museum, Phoenix, Arizona (2019); and Body Language: Figuration in Modern and Contemporary Art, curated by Julie Sasse, Tuscon Museum of Art, Tuscon, Arizona (2017).