Mãos Negativas, Gruta and Achados

An exhibition trilogy that questions yet another trilogy: Art, Audience and Gallery

Marguerite Dura’s poem Negative Hands entitles the collective exhibition of Hugo Canoilas, Vasco Costa and Filipe Feijão, at Galeria Quadrado Azul, in Alvalade, Lisbon. This exhibition intends to introduce the collective artistic project dubbed Gruta, developed by the three artists and the gallery, whose premise is to question the current period in wich we live. With some scientists calling it the Anthropocene, this period began at the end of the 18th century and is related to the emergence of changes in the earth’s crust due to human activity. Anthropocene, or even Capitalocene, a term developed by Andreas Malm that puts face to face climate change and the capital amassed gathered by the human captivity through fossil fuels, is the dominant leitmotif of this collaborative project.

In Mãos Negativas, the three artists, who come from different languages and artistic backgrounds, establish an introductory dialogue to Gruta, adopting paintings centred on cosmogonies from different ancient peoples or endangered animals, in an almost paleontological discourse (Hugo Canoilas), alongside other sculptures from bathtubs, presences whose purpose is to question the body’s social dimension (Vasco Costa), which, in turn, are challenged by the recreation of snippets from a sculpture developed over 15 years, exposed to the action of climate, as a pretext for an exercise of repetition and difference between the original and the copy (Filipe Feijão).

Gruta required the establishment of a space capable of welcoming the project conceived with materials found in the trash, which, when agglutinated, have originated a toxic crust, an analogy to the current ecological footprint. The space is poorly lit and requires the engagement of the audience interested in taking part of it, since, at first, forces one to look downwards attentively, in a way that is almost animalistic, in order to stumble upon a safe and careful access to Gruta. Once inside, one has to look upwards, rationally and observationally, this time with the intent of watching Ana Vaz’s film. The next artistic proposals overlap each other, in a horizontal, collaborative hierarchical relationship, in an attempt to emphasize the project’s development and the passage of time – here approached with a nonlinear valency, based on the concept of Gilbert Simondon, associated with the idea that this (the time) comes from the future and not the other way around, a condition which allows us to fully experience the present, according to Bernard Asp.

In Hugo Canoilas’ perspective, the nature of the work of art is always the presence of the Future. The work is understood as a becoming: it takes place due to the return trip from the future to the present, allowing the juxtaposition of a set of intricate ideas, translated into layers that accumulate and remain in memory, in a sedimentation interplay of contemporary society.

The space that precedes Gruta is the gallery’s own archive. In the future, works of the artists invited to intervene in Gruta will be presented, in order to contextualize the audience in relation to their artistic practice. Currently, to emphasize the inauguration of this space, Hugo Canoilas relies on artists represented by Galeria Quadrado Azul, with works whose origin indicates an immediate relationship with Gruta. Therefore, Isabel Carvalho proposes a set of works related to technical plates of works shown in museums, whose content are associated with poetic and subjective texts. Ana Santos chimes in with sculptures found between the natural and toxic environment, made of stone and paraffin, while Francisco Tropa presents frottage drawings that reveal the movement of the body and hand in drawing (an analogy to a cave painting) and Gonçalo Sena suggests a set of sculptures that are almost primitive examples of resistance to everyday life.

Galeria Quadrado Azul, by allowing the coexistence of three artistic projects at the same time – a developing collaborative work of art and two distinct expositions –, supports an experimental initiative, promoting the freedom of artistic expression and questioning its position nowadays associated with a commercial nature. The audience is also an object of this experience, since they are requested to constantly return to the gallery, in order the follow the development of the collective project Gruta.

Hugo Canoilas argues that the participation in collective art projects is beneficial to his own artistic effort and assumes that the resulting heterogeneity of these collaborations can be regarded as a training tool for the body and mind, to ensure a proper integration in the contemporary context. The heterogeneity applied to Galeria Quadrado, as a suggestion of a new and different approach to the trilogy of the work of art, audience and gallery, can be lived and experienced throughout 2019.

Lives and works in Lisbon. Has a Masters degree in Architecture from the FA-UL, in 2010, has developed her professional practice in Switzerland between 2011 and 2016. In 2017 began her Post-graduation in Art Curatorship, at FCSH-UNL, and integrated the collective of curators in the final exhibition ECO (DA IDEIA À OBRA DE ARTE) and the commission of the exhibition of the communitarian art project UM MONUMENTO PARA O LOUSAL. Presently, she is developing projects around the domains of architecture and curatorship.

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