Contemporary Art in the Americas Arte Contemporáneo en las Américas

Fuckin’ Fruit

Puppies Puppies

BFA Boatos Fine Arts São Paulo, Brazil 09/03/2016 – 12/22/2016

pp2-fruit-stand

pp10-double-banana-blue-yellow-green

pp12-brazilian-flagblueyellowgreen

Puppies Puppies’ Green Works pair yellow and blue (distinct individuals) and green (their union) as a marker of works bearing some connection to love, and especially to our family. The newest Green Work, as of this writing, is Brazilian Flag (blue) (yellow) (green), 2016, an open edition of mass-produced Brazilian flags. An example of this work is included in the exhibition and can be seen through the gallery window, flying over a building close by.

Part of Puppies’ childhood fixation with atlases included careful study of various countries’ flags. Flag design is generally the most reliable contemporary user of explicit color-based symbolism, and is thus a clear precedent for the Green Works. Using simple geometry and color can invoke a complex picture of national values. Just as Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ two touching circles can be understood as homoerotic, within the flag of the United States, “white signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness & valour, and blue… signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”

The background of the Brazilian flag is a yellow rhombus floating in the center of a green field. The green represents the House of Braganza, and therefor Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil, and the yellow rhombus represents the House of Habsburg, and therefor Empress Maria Leopoldina, his wife. A year before his abrupt abdication of the Brazilian throne, and three years after the death of Maria Leopoldina, Dom Pedro I amended the Penal Code in 1830 to remove any references to sodomy, effectively legalizing homosexuality.

Inside the empress’s yellow rhombus, a circle of blue and a scattered field of white stars represent the 27 federated units of the country, arranged as the actual stars in the night sky as seen from Brazil. For much of their time as a gay student in The Netherlands, Puppies Puppies focused exclusively on copying Dutch Vanitas paintings, especially those featuring fruit. A fruit, becoming an individual when separated from its tree (and thus separated from the world), goes through a brief life cycle: maturing to ripened form, and then decaying. Often included alongside even more overt symbols like human skulls, fruit was used to represent the transience of human life. I have always felt this transience most viscerally when looking at the night sky. In particular, at the view many years ago from the McDonald Observatory in Texas, where light pollution is almost completely eliminated, set off a crippling chain of existential panics. The stars in the sky looked like an explosion of flour, and they made me feel nauseous and miserably, devastatingly brief.

The motto of Brazil hangs around the night sky on the flag, Order and Progress. It was adapted from the motto of Auguste Comte’s Positivism, which ascribed physics-like, absolute laws to human society. Comte’s original was longer: Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal. Positivism later became Comte’s Religion of Humanity, a “secular religion” popularized in the latter part of the 19th century in Brazil by Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, who designed the country’s flag and wrote its motto. He, perhaps ironically, believed that individual nations would eventually cease to exist, and so would wars, because the future would bear out an “irrevocable growth of universal friendship.”

– Forrest

http://boatosfinearts.com/

Courtesy of BFA Boatos Fine Arts, São Paulo

pp2-fruit-stand

pp10-double-banana-blue-yellow-green

pp12-brazilian-flagblueyellowgreen

Puppies Puppies’ Green Works pair yellow and blue (distinct individuals) and green (their union) as a marker of works bearing some connection to love, and especially to our family. The newest Green Work, as of this writing, is Brazilian Flag (blue) (yellow) (green), 2016, an open edition of mass-produced Brazilian flags. An example of this work is included in the exhibition and can be seen through the gallery window, flying over a building close by.

Part of Puppies’ childhood fixation with atlases included careful study of various countries’ flags. Flag design is generally the most reliable contemporary user of explicit color-based symbolism, and is thus a clear precedent for the Green Works. Using simple geometry and color can invoke a complex picture of national values. Just as Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ two touching circles can be understood as homoerotic, within the flag of the United States, “white signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness & valour, and blue… signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.”

The background of the Brazilian flag is a yellow rhombus floating in the center of a green field. The green represents the House of Braganza, and therefor Dom Pedro I, the first emperor of Brazil, and the yellow rhombus represents the House of Habsburg, and therefor Empress Maria Leopoldina, his wife. A year before his abrupt abdication of the Brazilian throne, and three years after the death of Maria Leopoldina, Dom Pedro I amended the Penal Code in 1830 to remove any references to sodomy, effectively legalizing homosexuality.

Inside the empress’s yellow rhombus, a circle of blue and a scattered field of white stars represent the 27 federated units of the country, arranged as the actual stars in the night sky as seen from Brazil. For much of their time as a gay student in The Netherlands, Puppies Puppies focused exclusively on copying Dutch Vanitas paintings, especially those featuring fruit. A fruit, becoming an individual when separated from its tree (and thus separated from the world), goes through a brief life cycle: maturing to ripened form, and then decaying. Often included alongside even more overt symbols like human skulls, fruit was used to represent the transience of human life. I have always felt this transience most viscerally when looking at the night sky. In particular, at the view many years ago from the McDonald Observatory in Texas, where light pollution is almost completely eliminated, set off a crippling chain of existential panics. The stars in the sky looked like an explosion of flour, and they made me feel nauseous and miserably, devastatingly brief.

The motto of Brazil hangs around the night sky on the flag, Order and Progress. It was adapted from the motto of Auguste Comte’s Positivism, which ascribed physics-like, absolute laws to human society. Comte’s original was longer: Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal. Positivism later became Comte’s Religion of Humanity, a “secular religion” popularized in the latter part of the 19th century in Brazil by Raimundo Teixeira Mendes, who designed the country’s flag and wrote its motto. He, perhaps ironically, believed that individual nations would eventually cease to exist, and so would wars, because the future would bear out an “irrevocable growth of universal friendship.”

– Forrest

http://boatosfinearts.com/

Courtesy of BFA Boatos Fine Arts, São Paulo

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