Brazil's Cultural Entanglements Surface at Mendes Wood DM

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/insights/brazil-cultural-entanglements-mendes-wood-dm/

From the entrance of Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, a series of dusty images invite viewers to look closely at the walls to make out the shapes of an unknown landscape.

Brazil's Cultural Entanglements Surface at Mendes Wood DM

Paula Siebra, Lagoa (2022) (detail). Oil on canvas. 38 x 50 cm. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

Forming part of Paula Siebra’s solo exhibition Noites de cetim (Satin Nights) (27 August–5 November 2022), a title borrowed from a song by Brazilian singer Amelinha, Siebra’s sandy works sit within a compositional blend of references that draw on local artistic practices of the artist’s hometown, Fortaleza, in Brazil’s northeast region.

Exhibition view: Paula Siebra, Noites de cetim (Satin Nights), Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Paula Siebra.

Exhibition view: Paula Siebra, Noites de cetim (Satin Nights), Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Paula Siebra. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

Among the artist’s references are material textures like clay, lace, embroidery, and crochet—as well as artists from Brazilian modern art history, including Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato and Candido Portinari.

Siebra’s paintings stand out, not only by acknowledging how history informs their making, but how as artworks, they can cause the ambiguity of popular and canonical histories to collide. In the oil on canvas Mulher penteando o cabelo (Woman combing her hair) (2022), a hand resembling an ex-voto—sculptures of body parts that double as votive offerings in Christian prayers of healing—brushes a woman’s wavy, beachy hair.

Exhibition view: Paula Siebra, Noites de cetim (Satin Nights), Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Paula Siebra.

Exhibition view: Paula Siebra, Noites de cetim (Satin Nights), Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Paula Siebra. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

In the middle of the gallery, two bottles are placed on top of individual stands, made by artist Edgar Freitas. Oil and egg tempera stripes of different colours build terrains within each bottle, referring to a local practice known as ‘silica engraving’, through which landscapes and other local imagery are depicted inside transparent bottles through the layering of coloured sand.

As curator Mariana Leme notes, ‘Siebra does not represent these objects … she establishes with them a profound dialogue.’ The artist’s world becomes known to us through gentle strokes and applications of dust, whether in the sand dunes of Dunas à noite (Dunes at night), the faint moonlight that illuminates Luar (Moonlight), or an ocean view at night, Casas nas dunas (Houses on the dunes) (all 2022).

Paula Siebra, Luar (2022). Oil on canvas. 20 x 30 cm.

Paula Siebra, Luar (2022). Oil on canvas. 20 x 30 cm. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

Siebra’s enmeshment of narratives and concepts ranging from anthropological narrative to mythology and pop culture, speaks to Kasper Bosmans‘ concurrent exhibition at Mendes Wood DM’s new São Paulo gallery, for the artist’s first solo exhibition in Latin America.

Creatures extends Bosmans’ recent institutional show, Husbandry, at WIELS, Brussels, where the artist created an environment that enmeshes the natural with the man-made across installation, sculpture, and painting.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Kasper Bosmans.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Kasper Bosmans. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

Stepping into the wide, industrial shed in the Barra Funda neighbourhood near downtown São Paulo, where the gallery is located, filament-like drawings, fragile in their string-like compositions, rest above the concrete floor, each inscribed on the surface of a transparent box. Comprising the ‘Dwarf Parade Dog’ (2022) series, they vary in shape and height, taking their outlines from nature.

Dispersed around the floor alongside these transparent habitats are boxes made of materials like stone, wood, and paper. First appearing like solid stone, they are in fact sculptures covered with beans and fruits, made of materials that fog any assertion about their actual matter.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Kasper Bosmans.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). © Kasper Bosmans. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

Suspended from the gallery ceiling, a series of colourful enamelled spiral figures evoke the shells of Cuban painted snails, or Polymita picta. A wide array of colours and compositions seem to draw from the snails’ outer layers, from small shells forming a mural on the wall to large mobiles floating from different heights.

Bosmans’ landscape echoes that of Siebra’s: at once legible and waiting to be read.

Bosmans notes he is interested in how humanity’s gestures towards the natural world can often obscure the need to conquer it. His use of assemblage speaks to the act of collecting, and what Bosmans describes as ‘the idea of making a mirror of society, of gathering objects, animals and things in your closet with which to self identify and seduce.’

Kasper Bosmans, Carry On Henry (2022). Bronze. 24 x 9.5 x 22 cm.

Kasper Bosmans, Carry On Henry (2022). Bronze. 24 x 9.5 x 22 cm. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

This notion of a cabinet of curiosities, or a compendium of gathered knowledge, is reflected in the bronze shapes stacked and tied together on one side of the room. Each form from the ‘Carry On’ series (2022), named after a popular British show from the 1950s, is drawn from slabs of butter—a reference to the trafficking of churned milk across the 20th-century border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

Titled after feelings (Carry On Loving, 2022) and persons (Carry On Henry, 2022), each sculpture’s name extends the referential web, thus squaring ideas of displacement and permanence with sentiments of longing and desire, as expressed in Bosmans’ ‘Boy Butter’ series (2021) to which ‘Carry On’ is connected. ‘Boy Butter’ addresses topics such as the practice of cruising in the woods. Churned milk, apparently, is also a popular lubricant in same-sex relationships.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). Kasper Bosmans.

Exhibition view: Kasper Bosmans, Creatures, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (27 August–5 November 2022). Kasper Bosmans. Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/Brussels/New York. Photo: Bruno Leão.

The collapse of references in Bosmans’ work is part of the point the artist makes through their staging as objects and forms. ‘Think of the Chimera for example, which is a goat, a lion and snake at the same time. If you are more than one thing at the same time then it’s inexplicable, and therefore a monstrosity,’ Bosmans says.

Consequently, the title of Bosmans’ São Paulo show, Creatures—from the Latin creatura, or something created—explores that monstrosity from a generative multiplicity. By collapsing the revolutionary potential of bodies within the natural order, alongside the incapacitating failure that aspirations of power and entitlement these bodies can create, Bosmans’ landscape echoes that of Siebra’s: at once legible and waiting to be read. —[O]

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/insights/brazil-cultural-entanglements-mendes-wood-dm/