Tiago Carneiro da Cunha

Jul 30 – Aug 29, 2009

Galeria Fortes Vilaça

Galeria Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present a new exhibition by Tiago Carneiro da Cunha. The artist presents a series of sculptures made in polychrome faience, a technique he has been working with since 2007.

In this new series the artist explores a gestural language which, even while it continues to develop formal and conceptual concerns already characteristic of his work, is almost a satirical perversion of the polished geometry of his previous work in resin. Here his disoriented characters – poets, beggars, bandits, philosophers, tyrants and other sarcastically smiling stereotypes – emerge from (or sink into) a multicolored swamp composed, as they themselves are, by the movement of the artist’s fingers on the clay, in gestures which are simultaneously careful and expressive.

The pieces were modeled in faience (a fine, low-temperature ceramic) and painted with underglazing, two traditional techniques which, besides allowing little room for mistakes,  force the artist to cope with uncertainties and surprises during the production process. The colors, for example, are completely different when painted than after the final firing, and once applied there is no way to erase them. This unpredictability is appropriated by the artist, who does not completely define the color fields but rather incorporates them fluidly within the material’s movement, in a blend of control and chance.

The various-sized sculptures are arranged on a single large plinth in the center of the exhibition room, in an atmosphere that references both the museum and the ceramics shop, adding another layer of critical humor to the show. Themes such as violence, power, sex and national identity pervade several pieces, creating a sort of satire of social satire that joins – and with metalinguistic touches explores the limits of – a tradition that includes satirists and artists such as Portuguese master ceramist and cartoonist Bordallo Pinheiro (1846–1905) and French printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor Honoré Daumier (1808–1879). As noted by Gilberto Mariotti, who has written an essay especially for this exhibition, Carneiro da Cunha “sees social criticism itself as one of the various materials that coexist in the pieces. This can only look at the world from within, with the complicity provided by a certain cynicism, of a sincere and somewhat ingenuous sort.”

In early 2009, Tiago Carneiro showed his work at Misako and Rosen Gallery, Tokyo, together with Erika Verzutti; in 2008, he had a solo show at Galeria VPF in Lisbon. He participates on a regular basis in group shows at museums and institutions in Brazil and abroad. From September to November this year he will participate as a resident artist and guest tutor at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, USA.