René Treviño’s flag pennants stream across the gallery by the hundreds, emblazoned with the Sun Stone, or Aztec Calendar, in a range of bright colors. Part used car lot, part Mexican family restaurant, they lead the eye to an ominous pile of construction materials that appear to have emerged from one of Magnolia Laurie’s paintings. Whether something is being built, or dismantled, is unclear. Elsewhere, Laurie’s smaller paintings capture barren landscapes crisscrossed with clotheslines and punctuated by explosions and random detritus, and Treviño’s renditions of the Aztec calendar appear as massive acrylic drawings on mylar.
An odd pairing at first glance—Laurie’s works are restrained, even modest, while Treviño dazzles with big pictures, bright colors and famous images—the two are both Resident Artists at The Patterson and share an apocalyptic sensibility. Building is destruction. Monuments become ruins. Innovation is obsolescence. They question the forces at work that cause civilizations to self-destruct, or cause humanity to abandon its habitats, its ways of life, its beliefs and methodologies. Can we call these forces “progress” or are they something different? Treviño’s Sun Stone alludes to both the collapse of meso-American civilizations, and the end-of-days predicted by the Mayans in 2012, while winking at the GLBT community’s rainbow flag with it’s bright colors (at the opening, he serves hundreds of “cupcakes for gay Iranians”). The sepia tones of Laurie’s paintings suggest the ravaged battlefields of the “War to End All Wars,” until traces of modernity—a goalpost, flag or remnant of a geodesic dome—jerk you back to a future that may not be so far off.
Destructive Behavior references our inherent need to build, create, climb and destroy. The further we climb, the further we fall. What will survive, who will rebuild and will the cycle begin again?