and in and out of weeks

Documentation of and in and out of weeks at Workplace | London

Videographer: Tom Carter

Workplace is delighted to present and in and out of weeks, a group exhibition of work by three artists: James Cabaniuk, b chehayeb and Rafael Pérez Evans, who each explore their relationship to place, time, memory, intersectionality, trauma, and escape through processes of introspection and investigation. 


In Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story Where the Wild Things Are, the protagonist Max is banished to his bedroom by his parent where, in his confinement, he enters the temporal and spatially dissonant world of his imagination, voyaging ‘in and out of weeks’ to reach a fantastical island of cannibalistic monsters that threaten to devour him. Upon conquering them, he commands them to engage in a tumultuous ‘wild rumpus’ before he returns home for his dinner. Steeped in psychoanalytic theory Sendak’s story is an allegory of the human capacity to confront and navigate trauma and intense emotional responses to the world, and how they may be processed and overcome through world-building, psychological fantasy, and imaginative journeying. The artists in the exhibition each purposefully traverse problematic complexities of the external world and their relationship to it, responding through delving into atemporal, fantastical or visionary worlds.


James Cabaniuk employs abstraction and strategies of queer opacity to construct thickly layered large scale abstract oil paintings. Seeking to liberate personal trauma from shame, and exploring queer identity and history, the authoritative singularity and machismo of 20th Century Abstract Expressionist painting becomes a world wherein Cabaniuk navigates their own complex relationship to the power it embodies - simultaneously fetishising and critiquing it. Materiality and performativity are held in tension by Cabaniuk and materials such as confetti, glitter, and soil serve as tools of celebration, resilience, and connection. Through gestural spontaneity the paintings become energetic sites that embody concepts of fun, camp, sexuality, gender, self-destruction, healing, and community to challenge and embrace boundaries. 


b chehayeb‘s paintings transcribe memories and sensory experiences into gesture, colour and texture. Using oil paint and oil stick on board and canvas, chehayeb records stories, as they exist in her memory, into largely abstracted visual language, punctuated by more direct iconography, where each painting represents a moment, or a feeling from the artist’s life. Employing the perspective of her own history and bi-cultural background – having grown up Mexican American in suburban Texas, she is focused on the reconstruction of failed memories, specifically memories warped by nostalgia, gender and cultural hybridity. chehayeb incorporates stories, cultural references, and traumas into her work, always alternating between representation and abstraction. 


Witnessing the demonstrations of Spanish farmers as a child, Rafael Pérez Evans saw vast quantities of lemons dumped in protest against a market devaluation in the 1990’s that made them more expensive to pick than sell. Drawing upon legacies of 1960s sculpture, Land Art and acts of social protest, the artist looks at agriculture and the post-industrial city as a ‘deranged metabolic system’ and considers how historical processes of illusion continue to be present in consumer culture, where infinitely recurring sequences of class struggle, aspiration and power continue to haunt the present. In the sculptural works exhibited at Workplace, optical illusions are created by propping mirrors open with live root vegetables such as yams. Pérez Evans creates fantastical visions of produce, magically suspended in mid-air, floating as strange, bodily, wheel-like forms. Packing material, transportation trolleys and other shipping debris are left conspicuous in the work, giving visibility to the evidence of human labour present in chains of production, usually cleverly hidden.