Reading time: 4 minutes
KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, São Paulo
July 3, 2015 – August 1, 2015
Basque artist Alain Urrutia (*1981, Bilbao) appropriates existing images and paints them always changing some elements, in order to tell his own version of the story. Walking around São Paulo in his first days in the city, the artist was confronted with several aspects from the Brazilian culture, which had an impact on him. For the exhibition «Sociedade Anônima» at KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, his first solo show in Brazil, he proposes a four chapter analyses of the Brazilian history and how it reflects in the development of the social values.
Chapter one, named Pindorama, is a wall painting of an indigenous pattern used for body painting, that is an abstraction of palm tree leaves. The image is used by the artist as an homage to the country’s origins, the indigenous people, their cosmology, and the nature, which he could experience in Parque Trianon – a small remaining sample of the former Mata Atlântica – where the light and the freshness of the air provide the feeling of being inside of a jungle. Pindorama – the Tupi word for Land of the Palms – was used by the indigenous people to name Brazil.
Chapter two, named Mula sem Cabeça, is an oil painting based on the cover of Paulo Prado’s book Retrato do Brasil, which shows the image of a bandeirante – one of the 17th-century Portuguese settlers and fortune hunters in the São Paulo region – riding a horse. However, in the painting, Urrutia replaces the horse by a Mula sem Cabeça – a character from the Brazilian folklore, who, in the legend, is the ghost of a woman condemned, for her sins, to turn into a fire-spewing headless mule, and to gallop through the countryside, scaring people. The work is a reflection on the effects of the Portuguese colonization process, with the genocide of millions of indigenous people, and the imposition of the Catholic religion in the national culture. The work also comments on how the bandeirantes are still worshiped as heroes by the contemporary society that keeps erecting their statues on the public space.
Chapter three, named Cobogó, is comprised by two images, one that shows the hands of Lina Bo Bardi’s holding a small object, and the other, an indigenous pattern, which resembles aesthetically to the structure of a cobogó – the typical Brazilian hollow concrete element used to build up walls, that allows more ventilation and lighting within a building. The work reflects on the effort of the modernist architects in establishing a national architecture that would integrate the nature, through the use of elements, such as the pilotis, the concrete, the glass, and the cobogó.
Chapter four, named Sociedade Anônima, is a sculptural oil painting that seems to be an architectonical element of the exhibition space. The image on the painting is a frame from the homonymous film by Luis Sérgio Person. Dating from 1965, the film shows a progressive period of the Brazilian history, which has been decisive for the way how life is experienced in the big cities. In that period, the establishment of the car industry in the country has given reference to the individual transport in detriment to the public, generating the transport problems existing today in the Brazilian metropolis. In the same way, the verticalization process of São Paulo, caused by the constant construction of skyscrapers, transformed the city into a dehumanized place, for the living of an anonymous society.
As an epilogue of the exhibition, Alain Urrutia chose the first page of the book Magia do Brasil, which has been sent by a Brazilian to an European friend in 1978, with an inscription saying: “Ao amigo Pico, para que conheça um pouco do meu país. Ezio Elio Bovino” (To my friend Pico, for you to know a little of my country. Ezio Elio Bovino).
Curated by Marina Coelho
Alain Urrutia (*1981, Bilbao) lives and works in London. Among the exhibitions in which he presented his works are: SOLO SHOWS (Selection): Revista de Occidente, Casado Santapau Gallery (2013), Madrid; Gaizing Again!, Egg Gallery (2013), Beijing; Chapter II, Guggenheim Museum (2012), Bilbao; The Coyote and the wolf, MA STUDIO (2011), Beijing; Fundación Bilbao Arte (2009), Bilbao; Evig Sondag (Eternal Sunday), Stavanger (2008), Norway. GROUP SHOWS (Selection): Crise de identidade; Museo Fundación Eugenio Granell (2014), Santiago de Compostela; In Situ. Espacio de Arte OTR (2014), Madrid; Wunderkammer, Museum Nacht (2012), Delft, Netherlands; Festival EXPOLIS, Triennale di Milano (2011), Milan; Antes que todo/Before Everything, CA2M, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (2010), Móstoles.
Courtesy of KUNSTHALLE São Paulo