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KPRENSA: ALEXANDRE DA CUNHA IN THE USA

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Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha may not be the most widely known artist in the United States. But with major museum and gallery shows opening in New York and Chicago this fall, that may change. The artist’s exhibition “Amazons” opened this week at CRG Gallery on the Lower East Side in New York City. The exhibition’s title references both the mythological female warriors as well as a region in Brazil. This will be da Cunha’s first exhibition to focus exclusively on wall works. The exhibit in New York is happening concurrently to the exhibition da Cunha’s large scale sculptural work in Chicago at theMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s MCA Plaza Project.

Alexandre da Cunha: Amazons runs at the CRG Gallery from September 9, 2015 – October 25, 2015

MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Alexandre da Cunha has a longer run from Jul 18, 2015 – Jul 24, 2016

Amazons, the New York Gallery exhibit, consists of commercially produced, printed beach towels mounted to stretchers with a collage of found fabrics applied. The found fabrics are place mats, sails, clothing (replete with use stains); t-shirts, raincoats, etc. In several towels there is an image of a quasi- naked figure with an animal (tiger, snake, horse). For the artist, these images reference goddesses of classic iconography found in historic painting. In other works, multiple towels with the same image are sewn together in a serial sequence and dyed with different tones.

These suggest a comparison to conventions of some contemporary “figure paintings” e.g. Alex Katz, Robert Rauschenberg, Sigmar Polke, Martin Kippenberger.

cunha_plazaUse of found objects is fundamental to Alexandre da Cunha’s practice. Known everyday objects when removed from their familiar context take on a new significance. Beach towels simultaneously evoke the exotic and stereotypes (beach culture, tropical countries, tourism, etc.). Jens Hoffmann wrote about da Cunha’s works as “tropical ready mades”. The association with the seminal work of Marcel Duchamp is one the artist likes.

The MCA Plaza Project features large outdoor sculptures that also employ the artist’s found object approach. The show includes the work “Mix (Americana)” from 2013. It is a full-scale cement mixer liberated from its typical location on the back of a delivery truck. Da Cunha is also exploring the use of precast concrete sewer pipes—like those coursing underneath Chicago—to make artistic arrangements from the different sizes and shapes that are available to the construction trade.

Alexandre da Cunha was born in 1969 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He lives and works in London and San Paulo. Concurrently, the artist has an installation of three large scale sculptures at The Museum of Contemporary Art Plaza, Chicago. He will participate in the upcoming BAS8 (the British Art Show 8) opening October 9th at City Art Gallery and traveling to Edinburgh, Norwich and Southhampton, UK.