Toad on the Moon by Hugo Brazão, at Galeria da Casa A. Molder
The exhibition Toad on the Moon, by Hugo Brazão, is on show at Galeria da Casa A. Molder, and it consists of two rooms. The first opens with a rectangular Jesmonite plaque hanging on the wall. The piece alludes to the idea of a small landscape.
The surface of the plaque, halfway down, contains a drawing of a horizon, the upper part of which is described by a large multicoloured star on a yellow background and the underside by what appears to be the banks of a small river. There are greens, oranges and yellows, arranged in a crude, generous and opaque manner, forming a combination that unabashedly suggests a celebration of colour.
The shapes, resting on the banks, also appear to allude to animals. These are defined by a very precise, brightly coloured outline, drawn by the artist over the surface. The impression that remains is one of colour, as well as the materiality of the shapes, standing out from the surface in relief and adopting an autonomous position. In a perceptual game, there is also a sense of abstraction of the elements, whether as a line, a dot, a stain, or even as a thing, with relief, in three dimensions.
This landscape is a prelude, an antechamber leading to a larger room.
The second room is accessed through an entrance topped by a round arch, an architectural element confirming how the features and roughness of the room bear their mark, part of Hugo Brazão’s installation.
Before the spectator walks into the installation, they can already anticipate the astonishment of colour in the first room and the shape that follows.
Each corner, each wall of the room is part of the artist’s assemblage, of the work’s balances and tensions, even those that apparently seem to have no direct relationship with the elements inside the space. There are bare walls, some with oxidised nails and peeling paint. But the influence of time provides a contrasting frame to the soft, rounded shapes that the artist has developed and laid out on the gallery floor.
A lotus-shaped flower pops up on the ground, edged by petals in different coloured fabric. A plaster amalgam appears in the centre, perhaps suggesting a moon or a cocoon, reminiscent of something just beginning or about to be born.
But the flower does not remain isolated on the ground. A wooden beam connects it to the opposite vertices of the room, along a wide diagonal. It draws an ascending trajectory until it ends up embedded in the ceiling, bracketed by rectangular wooden planks, arranged as if they were signalling elements. One board points to the left or, depending on the viewer’s position, to the right. Another board leads the eye to the right. The first is anchored in an orthogonal position relative to the floor beam, the second is mounted in the same position following the diagonal path on the ground.
Throughout Brazão’s installation, space, its limits, and the opportunity to cross them are asserted. It points out directions, but also limits. It impels the visitor to experience the interior or to be part of it, and to feel that world of plenty and nothingness, or to recognise the hierarchical aspects of the elements within that exhibition structure.
We also have colour, addressed along the traditional lines of painting – inscribed on the plane -, encouraging the viewer to have an immersive experience, where they become aware of the surrounding area, as the “extended field” mentioned by Rosalind Krauss. Or the multidisciplinarity, where painting, sculpture and architecture appear to be worked on simultaneously, permeating the artistic work.
The fanciful side of the exhibition title Toad on the Moon points to a dreamlike treatment of the elements. On the ground, we have what looks like a moon, and then slats and beams that, depending on the trajectory or orientation, traverse the place, seeking to lead our gaze first upwards and then sideways. This connects us to a more spiritual realm of art or, on the other hand, to a dimension embedded in the divine.
The artist positions the viewer at the heart of the debate: art as an incubator of affections, a catalyst for environmental reflections or, on the other hand, art as a hypnotic effect, contributing to an attempted evasion, heading for another reality or place. A place of dreams, as Miró once mentioned when talking about his creative process and studio.
The exhibition Toad on the Moon is at Galeria da Casa A. Molder until October 14.