Featuring works by João Carvalho, Felix Manz, Iris Shady, Tashiro Tsuramoto, Lola Lago, John Brown, and Martín Soto.

NEW YORK, NY 10012
TUE – SAT 11-6PM

02.20.15 – 04.11.15

Tashiro Tsuramoto

Iris Shady

Lola Lago

João Carvalho

Martín Soto

El Silvido del Fantasma

John Brown

John Brown

Feliz Manz

All images courtesy the artist and Clifton Benevento

Clifton Benevento is pleased to present the solo exhibition The Contemporary Comedy: Glossy Mist by Mexican artist Martín Soto Climent.
Inspired by an ancient text by anarchist Bao Jingyan (c. 300 AD, unknown), which illustrates the existential journey of a warrior facing death, Martín Soto Climent likewise presents the death of his artistic persona. Contradicting all normative protocol for his third show at the gallery, Soto Climent presents his new body of work in the form of eight participating artists in a group exhibition, as a part of his major project The Contemporary Comedy.
Emerging from a selection process––throughout which the artist functions dynamically as curator, producer, and critic––the works in the exhibition resonate with Soto Climent’s candid fascination with death, both physically and metaphorically speaking. Embedded with symbolic visual cues throughout, Glossy Mist plays with notions of identity, time, space, and the assumed trajectory of an artistic career within a normative capitalist socioeconomic system.
The 91 year-old calligraphy master, Tashiro Tsuramoto (b. 1923, Kawachi, Japan) debuts his lifelong work Hagakure, drawn largely upon his transformative experiences in a concentration camp in Mexico during WWII, through his present day dedication to Bushido meditation in Santo Domingo Ocotitlan, Mexico. Iris Shady (b. 1986, Greymouth, New Zealand) unveils a new sculptural practice that unearths archeological discoveries of the future. Seemingly unsynchronized with contemporary time or space, the artist suspends logic in order to facilitate a practice that relies on the presumed extinction of our own race, and the fossilized remains we leave behind. The work of Swiss-born Felix Manz (b. 1985, Zurich) evidences the artist’s own survival through minute modifications of newspaper photographs he renders with just an eraser and a black pencil. Legendary conceptual artist João Carvalho (1945-1982, São Paulo, Brazil) is included in the show, constituting the first exhibition of his work since his tragic and mysterious death during the height of the military dictatorship in Brazil. A series of portraits are included in the exhibition by dancer and choreographer Lola Lago (b. 1944 Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; d. 1977, Antigua, Guatemala as Lola Nicte Ha). The black-and-white photographs are configured in a way that suggests a certain time-based choreography, though her work has been said to elude all representation and corporeal possibility. American artist John Brown (1989, New York) makes his second appearance in this project, with plasticine sculptures that mold themselves to crumpled beer cans, a material found throughout Soto Climent’s early works. Lastly, Mexican painter Martín Soto (b. 1952, Mexico City) has engaged in an collaborative project with Martín Soto Climent that functions as a self-reflexive undertaking to negotiate their respective identities as artists functioning under closely the same name in Mexico City.
Individually, each artist functions to reveal an element of Martín Soto Climent’s introspective odyssey. Together, they begin to encapsulate the ethos of a far larger project the artist is embarking upon, using larger concepts as material for manipulation rather than his archetypal use of vernacular objects. Questionably real artists, or constructions of a calculated proposal, Martín Soto Climent creates deeply nuanced personas that unarguably disrupt the expectations of his work as we thought we knew it.

By zzyzx, independent writer

All characters appearing in the following work may or may not be
fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is or
is not purely coincidental.

A linear trajectory of the life cycle––of birth, growth, and
lastly, death––is not what interests Martín Soto Climent. Rather,
his work as an artist, curator, and foremost as a human, muses
about the possibility of simultaneous, rather than sequential,
moments. A series of these moments converge in this exhibition,
albeit from separate realms of time and space, fiction and reality.
The resulting structure is one that allows for various channels of
exploration and introspection rather than a singular, well-defined
expression from the artist, as is expected.

Whether or not the following adds up to a physical truth, each
element points to an aspect of the artist’s own creative identity.
He is here afforded the channels of multiplicity and of
experimentation with his own voice. For Soto Climent, a conceptual
truth takes precedence over the narrative truth, and the artists
within this scheme bring life to Soto Climents navigation of the
vast concepts of humanity and death.


The Mirror.
A collaboration between two Mexican men sharing a name and a
profession. The work between Martin Soto and Martin Soto Climent
reveals the artist’s fascination with identity, and the
multitudinous possibilities of one’s self. The two men found each
other through a plate and a painting of a fish. Sitting in a
restaurant cabana in the countryside just outside of Mexico City, a
framed painting caught Soto Climent’s eye as he finished his plate
of grilled trout. The painting is also of a trout, and provoked the
artist’s questioning of life cycles as the fish made its way
through his digestive system. Approaching the painting, he found
that the signature read Martin Soto.

“To find the same name was not only a surprise, but a mirror
between life and death. It turned me into an object rather than a
subject of life,” says Soto Climent. Mixed media works by both of
the artists illustrate the layering of personas, an inquisition
into themes of singularity, duality, and multiplicity between them.
The resulting collages act as a mirror through which both of the
artists analyze their own being, and their relationship to each
other as estranged allies sharing the same name and life’s work.

The Mask.
Following the line of converging identities, John Brown (1989, New
York) makes his second appearance in collaboration with Soto
Climent. The artist molds plasticine sculptures of highly detailed
faces atop crumpled beer cans. A mask. “As ‘evolved’ creatures, we
still consume and are consumed by copious amounts of trash. Is the
garbage the object, or perhaps the subject matter itself?” Brown
questions the roles of consumer and consumed in a desperate plead
toward reorganizing the balance of power in society. The sculptures
become portraits of a culture that is slowly consuming itself,
breaking us down by our very own habits. Making use of Soto
Climent’s recurring material motif of a beer can, Brown implicates
the artist in this proposed restructuring of cultural ideology to
an extent that may reveal itself over the duration of this project.

The Gesture.
Enduring the death of his family and internment at a concentration
camp in Mexico during WWII, Japanese calligraphy master Tashiro
Tsuramoto (b. 1920, Kawachi) has turned to Bushido meditation as
his solace. His lifelong work Hagakure reflects the transformative
journey his life has provided, in a series of simple gestures.
Inhabiting the walls of a make-shift house, the ink drawings he
composes with sweeping gestures are subtly complex in their
repetition. The artist’s life has been dedicated to the
investigation of death, his own mortality, and the meaning of the
inhabitance of his own physical body.

The Instant.
The enigmatic choreographer Lola Lago (b. 1944 Tierra del Fuego,
Argentina; d. 1977, Antigua, Guatemala as Lola Nicte Ha) seems to
elude categorization at every opportunity. She changed careers,
names, and steadily moved around the world as she coated her
identity in a cloud of seductive mystery. More than a prolific
dancer, performer, or choreographer, Lola Lago was an artist
obsessed with the construction of a conscious instant. She used her
body as a vehicle through which to study Mayan philosophy and
mysticism under the veil of an avant-garde identity during the
1960s through her untimely death in 1977.

Notes, sketches, and photographs found in a lingering archive point
to Lola Lago’s impossible task of capturing a single moment of
corporeal movement in her work. Soto Climent arranges portraits of
the dancer in such a way that suggests sequential movement, but
also captures Lago’s intense focus on the singular gesture of an
instant. The artist created impossible choreography that
transcended time and space, building upon concepts far more
expansive than merely bodies moving on stage, but fictional and
unsolvable equations of mathematics beyond physical capability. Her
suicide reveals the true depth of her fascination with the body and
it’s limitations in the physical realm. Soto Climent revisits her
work here in the role of a curator, attempting to give shape and
presence to her revolutionary vision with this series of frozen

The Code.
Musician and artist João Carvalho (1945-1982, São Paulo, Brazil)
developed a visually coded language while imprisoned during the
height of the military dictatorship in Brazil. Working with a group
of his peers, Carvalho embedded hidden messages inside of his inked
fingerprints left behind on letters to the outside world.
Maneuvering the carefully monitored communication circuits of the
prison system, Carvalho was able to continue his work as an artist
and revolutionary from the inside of one of the most feared
institutions of his time.

Documentation and conjecture suggest the artist was killed by the
regime in prison. His work continued to circulate within and
without the prison walls, however, and is portrayed here as a
meditation on the value of communication. Risking his own death for
freedom of expression reveals not only a certain generational
ethos, but also the human craving for socialization and community,
withstanding even the most brutal of physical threats.

The Survivalist.
Felix Manz (1986, Zurich) meticulously modifies newspapers as a
mode of survival. Obsessively, he erases and restructures newspaper
columns, advertisements, and images, inserting instead his own
impressions in pencil. An uncontrollable urge to mediate the
content spread by mass publications drives Manz’s practice, and his
life’s work lies in the piles of newspapers that populate every
surface of his home. Just shy of committing suicide one afternoon,
a woman notices his intricate drawings and strikes up a
conversation that will purportedly save the artist’s life. The work
included in this exhibition is that which has been produced since
the two were married in 2012.

The Fossil.
Unearthing archeological discoveries of the future, Iris Shady (b.
1986, Greymouth, New Zealand) inaugurates a new sculptural practice
unsynchronized with contemporary time or space. The artist suspends
logic in order to facilitate a practice that relies on the presumed
extinction of the human race. With the eyes of an anthropologist,
she models figurative sculptures of the human body from an
ambiguous era. Are they recovered relics from the past, or the
remains of a future civilization that fossilizes our own present?
Her delicately constructed faces speak to a certain fragility that
relates to all beings, real or conceptualized.


Individually, each artist functions to reveal an element of Martín
Soto Climent’s introspective odyssey. Together, they begin to
encapsulate the ethos of a far larger project the artist is
embarking upon, using conceptual material for manipulation rather
than his archetypal use of vernacular objects. The artists involved
in this group exhibition, be they real or imagined, constitute a
structure whereby conventional modes of exhibition may be broken
down, and an artist be free to explore himself under the public eye