Time Out Review

Current Shows
December, 2005
Vilma Gold East End

Alexandre da Cunha
Helen Sumpter

The Brazilian-born artist Alexandre da Cunha takes cheap, mass produced domestic items and gives them a slightly elevated function. Brooms becomes crutches, mops are joined together to form a climbing frame, sleeping bags and an old sofa are restructured into a quilted sleeping compartment. For this exhibition, da Cunha has transformed similar objects into what might be recognised as art. Car tyres and wheel parts are painted to resemble decorated ceramic pots; striped deckchair fabric is fixed over stretchers to become abstract paintings that have more than a hint of Bridget Riley or Barnett Newman about them. Stacked on top of each other, silver ice buckets produce a visual echo of Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’.

Da Cunha is by no means the only artist to use cheap source material to query the economic and cultural value of art, but these cleverly crafted works manage to resemble valuable art without trying to disguise their origins. The debate continues in a series of framed works on transfer paper. Bought from Brazilian street traders, they show how magazine images are transferred on to T-shirts; each sheet contains a selection of cut-out images – from topless glamour shots to blue mosaic pots, a photo of Nelson Mandela and paintings by Picasso.