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Starting Point, by Nelson Leirner

Artist Nelson Leirner shows at the Galeria Graça Brandão in the exhibition Starting Point. The exhibition, curated by, at the request of the artist, Albuquerque Mendes is set to run until the end of November.

In the 1960s, Leirner surprised art critics in Brazil with his legendary The Pig, 1967, which consists of a real embalmed pig in a wooden railing. When asked about his reasons for incorporating taxidermy (dos Anjos, 2008), the artist promptly responded with the example of Duchamp – who used a urinal, or a cup dryer (dos Anjos, 2008), among other objects in his works. So, in that sense, why couldn’t Leirner do the same – implement the appropriation of mundane objects? As unusual as those objects might seem.

But Leirner’s works are not exhausted by a mere glimpse. On the contrary, in Starting Point, the visitor’s initial struggle to grasp the meaning of the works presented is visible. Even for the most attentive critics, Leirner’s work fosters a diversity of interpretations, not promoting the unanimity of his analysis (dos Anjos, 2008). In fact, the artist intends to provoke, with his work, a certain “semantic ambiguity”, placing the visitor in a position of strangeness and interpretive confusion.

In a parade-like arrangement, several objects are placed in a row as if it were a pilgrimage. Little figures; Donald Ducks, Mickeys and Batmans; Saci-pereré (Brazilian Folk) and Cangaceiros (outlaws); Our Ladies, fathers of saints, Hearts of Jesus and Saint Georges; princesses and garden gnomes, among others, cohabit side by side, towards the same destiny (dos Anjos, 2008). From this miscellany of objects, denouncing multiple symbolic contexts, the political and social affairs of a country such as Brazil, its complexity, its religious beliefs, the diversity of cultures, and its customs, taken for granted and certain, are highlighted. The juxtaposition of religious figures with popular-culture figures leads the observer, seeing the humour of it, to an idea that there are several possible truths (as opposed to a unilateralist view) – or an imposition of universal beliefs or ideologies (dos Anjos, 2008) – both within culture and society and within the context of art itself.

Starting Point runs until 30 November.

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in Ar.co and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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