Tonico Lemos Auad: Silent Singing
On View September 13, 2008 - October 18, 2008
CRG begins its season with the first New York solo exhibition of London-based Brazilian artist Tonico Lemos Auad. The installation includes an arrangement of cast graphite pigeons on the gallery floor titled “Quatro Ventos” four winds. In this work some of the dulled metallic birds are mounted atop loaves of blackened burnt bread while others, that form an interactive component, are loose and meant to engage the viewer -who is invited to use them to draw or write on the gallery wall. In addition, a series of portraits, also depicting pigeons, hang on the gallery wall, each adorned with a semi-irregular bulging picture frame made from baked bread. Other works include an arrangement of sprouting sweet potatoes that spell out the word “CLAIRVOYANT”.
Auad engages the transitory through the use of materials that we take as succinctly impermanent and fading; incorporating such things in the past as fruits, vegetables, and plants into his works. The fragile and ethereal presence that these objects provide is amplified even more so by his delicate treatment of them. While such precedents exist like Yoko Ono’s distinctively stark “Apple”, 1967 -not wholly dissimilar in its quiet and poetic placement, Auad’s hand is clearly present in his work that has its foundation in the essentialized creative act of mark making or drawing. Sometimes conventionally and other times not so. With such seminal works as “Drawings on Banana” 2001 -where Auad used a needle to prick the skin of bananas causing them to ripen in areas, revealing over time blackened tattoo-like drawings on the fruit’s surface that eventually disappeared as the fruit continued to ripen. Auad’s process might seem to focus on the momentary with a capricious disregard for its need of continual replenishment in order to exist at times, though like Ono, that is precisely the point that makes his work resonate with such lucid, though perhaps inaudible, clarity… “Silent Singing” as it might be. His works are engagements with his environment on the most intimate of levels, even seemingly accidental at times; as if through the busy fray of daily life something as innocuous as a forgotten potato on the kitchen counter -revealed many weeks later to have begun sprouting and perhaps for a moment suggesting an auspicious vision. It is the beauty of the commonly overlooked that can, through Auad’s delicate placement and treatment, yield such poetic repositories of a shared personal experience that in their slow impermanence become like memories that have been caught just long enough to appear as if stopped altogether.
The works in this exhibition mark a significant culminating point for Auad where his range of personal process and medium have become combined and accessible through an open invitation with the viewer. The focal work “Quatro Ventos” extends Auad’s talent for transforming the everyday through alchemical means to a dialogical one where the viewers themselves become an active agent in the transformation; dissolving the representational object into the abstract and gestural quite literally -as the pigeons eventually will disappear into a specific and current cultural script within the gallery space that eventually vanishes over time as well.