A dog with a remarkable tail, an unspeakable circus trick with microscopic organisms from outer space, a rainbow, a very uncomfortable but everlasting footwear, the last days of a tiny flea in a fictional world, a two-dimensional watermelon that looks like the moon as viewed from the side, the fountain of youth, a perpetual sunset followed by nightfall, a foot wide elephant, a lemonade that tastes of oranges, a ghost steam convoy heading north and south at the same time, a planet made out of cheese, snow falling in the Antarctic while everyone is asleep, an oversized dromedary bathing in a very small tub, a screen standing for a long time on top of a rounded stone, a suprematist picture Kasimir Malevich will never be able to paint, etc…*
Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel presents A Dog with a Remarkable Tail [Um cão com uma cauda notável], Portuguese duo João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva’s new exhibition at Galpão (Barra Funda).
The show comprises a room with six slide projections and a set of fifteen patinated bronze sculptures. With these works, the artists examine our relation to reality to subvert it with humor and sensitivity, giving trivial things an enigmatic aura.
Installed in a dark room, the six projections explore film language – or, more specifically, proto-cinema’s – through a complex system of altered projectors, filters and synchronized clockworks. The images are formed by different layers and projected through a process that is like magic lantern, a gadget from the 17th Century. Simple colored patterns form kinetic images: a faucet turned on and off, snow falling, a camel’s silhouette passing in front of the pyramids. Trivial episodes gain fantasy profiles, as in an illusionist trick.
For the set of sculptures, the duo also uses simplified schematic foundations to create figures. They choose to model not the pieces themselves, but their molds – a resource which opens random possibilities and pushes them away from any sense of style. The logic of the pieces is closely related to the unpretentious drawing, made almost distractively, as in Hammered Twice [Duas marteladas] or Pregnant Sculpture [Escultura grávida]. Other pieces are presented as three dimensional droodles which presents riddles by making unusual associations between form and title: an egg shaped form on a plane is an Underwater Dromedary [Dromedário debaixo de água], while a square relief with circle shapes is Cheese Corner [Canto de queijo].
João Maria Gusmão (Lisbon, 1979) and Pedro Paiva (Lisbon, 1977) have been collaborating since 2001 making films, sculptures, photos, installations and publications. Their recent solo shows include: Lua Cão (with Alexandre Estrela), Kunstverein München (Munich, 2018); The Sleeping Eskimo, Aargauer Kunsthaus (Aarau, Switzerland, 2016); Papagaio, travelling show that has been to Hangar Bicocca (Milan, 2014), Camden Arts Center (London, 2015) and KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, 2015); The Missing Hippopotamus, Kölnischer Kunstverein (Cologne, 2015). Among their group shows, standouts are their participation in the Venice Bienalle (2013, 2009), the Gwangju Biennial (South Korea, 2010) and the São Paulo Biennial (2006).
* The exhibition’s title, A Dog with a Remarkable Tail, refers to the description of an element which accompanies a brass bust sculpture. This bust, formal exercise of rocky pareidolia, vaguely humanoid, is therefore accompanied by a dog; an arguably insignificant share, considering the sculpture and projection paraphernalia shown at Galpão. Unsatisfied with the canine extension one title might entail, which in this case, in an intensified way, for naming just a detail, a chosen form, a spiral moment, artificial and almost random of an attribute (remarkable tail) of an accessory figure (the dog) of the sculpture itself (the bust), and acknowledging the descriptive vocation in the rest of the works on display, suggest the following second title.