Mariana Dias Coutinho is exhibiting, until 11 June, in the gallery of Livraria Sá da Costa, eleven pieces gathered under the unusual title Oh si cariño.
Eleven floor-and-wall sculptures with a blatant procedural independence, grouped under the title’s erotizing metaphor, address conditions related with the body, the skin and its texture, the permeability to touch and lust, inviting the viewers nearby to reinvent their place in this interactive play of meanings and ideas. Indeed, when they go from the secluded and private atmosphere of the artist’s studio to a public space, these sculptures carry a dynamic and mutant trait; they become open works that provide more questions than certainties, establishing lines of thought that the viewer, turned into a co-author by the artist, must activate, adding new perspectives and different approaches.
This is an exhibition with a deeply performative nature, since the visitor is urged to assume an active role in the relation established with works exhibited, answering their questions. Issues related to the notions of body, sexuality, visual and tactile fruition, but also of limits – conceptual and material – of boundaries – between public and private sectors, for instance – of layers, overlapped, successive layers. Of meanings and ideas that hide behind easier alternatives, as revealed by a wall sculpture suggestively entitled Peeling them off.
The ambiguous dichotomy about what separates the public from the private encompasses the whole show and can be extended to many other areas such as the material/conceptual, high/low culture, society of consumption/artistic creation, exponentially multiplying the readings and possibilities for an understanding of Mariana Dias Coutinho’s work. Indeed, the artist is constantly moving concepts and objects during her creative efforts, contextualizing objects and shapes, robbing them from their habitat, just to introduce them into new hybrid environments, whose jargon has yet to be found.
Two other aspects add to the exhibitive traits of these works: the umbilical and strict inter-relationship established by the sculptures, illuminating and clarifying each other, as well as the characteristics of the gallery, exploring their potential and assuming an installation nexus. The second aspect is the plethora of materials used by the artist in her sculptures – plywood, several objects, stoneware, acrylic, dry pastel, aluminium mesh, sponge, acrylic enamel, canvas, iron, plaster, silicone, ceramic sponges, cement…
Showcasing her virtuosity, based on her studies in conservation and restoration, Mariana Dias Coutinho’s methodology consists in owning materials that she is unfamiliar with, exploring its materiality to the physical and plastic limits, relating them with other materials. Well, uncovering what has been not said here.