In the exhibition Novas Esculturas [New Sculptures], Tiago Carneiro da Cunha presents three new sculptures in polychrome faience and enamel paint, which take his interest in abject imagery to new levels of formal sophistication, via a very particular use of effects taken from the classic sculptural tradition. This time, however, the artist is adding a new satirical layer by incorporating utilitarian elements to the sculptures.
In Monstro de Lama com Vela Vermelha [Mud Monster with Red Candle] a figure seemingly covered by a muddy, multicolored blanket, paralyzed in phantasmagorical emergence, carries a thick red candle on top of its head. The molten wax appears to blend with the sculpture’s colors and volumes, as if it had long been used as a candelabra, in a variation of the same theme as the one found in Monstro de Lama com Vela Branca [Mud Monster with White Candle], also in the exhibition. Cicládico com Despacho [Cycladic with Offering] consists of a reclining figure in a relaxed attitude, arms crossed behind its over-sized geometric head, reminiscent of the Cycladic style (pre-classical Greek) that the title alludes to. The space between its arms and legs, however, is used to place fruit and nuts at an uncomfortable midpoint between fruit-basket and offering platter.
In this sense, this new series seems to combine “use-value” (in its twisted/satirical renderings of utilitarian objects), “spiritual values” (in the equally present reference to Afro-Brazilian Candomblé offerings, and the mixture of sacred and profane registers) and, arguably, what Giorgio Agamben describes as “exhibition-value” (in the book In Praise of Profanation, Zone Books 2007), if we so interpret its persistent use of a highly polished, reflexive and seductive surface. The sculptures thus find themselves in the ambiguous condition of being icons with iconoclastic aspirations.
Tiago Carneiro da Cunha was born in 1973, in São Paulo. He currently lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. He is one of the selected artists for the 30th Bienal de São Paulo. In 2011, he exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art of San Francisco (SFMOMA), USA, and in 2010 he curated the exhibition Law of the Jungle for Lehmann Maupin Gallery, in New York, USA. His work is part of important collections such as SFMOMA, (USA); the Coleção Gilberto Chateaubriand (Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro), the Saatchi Collection (UK), and Thyssen-Bornemissa TB21 (Austria); among others.