“Ja estava assim quando eu cheguei is an exploration of Brazil from an outsider’s perspective. It functions as a personal travel log that highlights first encounters with Brazil’s nature through contemporary art. Given the immenseness of the history, culture and land itself, it merely is a personal reflection of memories, discoveries and ideas of the country and its art.”— Frederik Schampers
Já estava assim quando eu cheguei
Galerie Ron Mandos is pleased to present a new online viewing room of Já estava assim quando eu cheguei. The Brazilian group exhibition includes a selection of emerging and established Brazilian artists, of whom all works are presented here. In this viewing room, we highlight a few of them with exclusive visual and textual material.
Já estava assim quando eu cheguei literally translates into “It was like this when I got here” – Nature was here before any of us arrived, with its mystifying grandeur and intimidating yet welcoming density, growing for thousands of years before any of us set foot on earth. Many places have by now tamed nature, our technology has learned to flatten surfaces, regulate water streams, and produce sustainable energies. Though this domestication has occurred in innumerable places, including in Brazil, the country’s wildlife still fiercely pushes through man’s ultimately frail footsteps. Brazil remains a land of impenetrable forests and landscapes, in a way that is unfathomable to many. It is a natural strength that is foreign to many of us, especially to The Netherlands, where most landscapes are man-made, which coins well the relevance of the exhibition. The exhibition is about bringing in, not only a reality alien to us, but also about encountering a whole world that existed before us, and perhaps most importantly that is immeasurably stronger than us.
Já estava assim quando eu cheguei is a Brazilian group exhibition curated by Frederik Schampers. Frederik Schampers, former director of Galerie Ron Mandos is now director of Galeria Nara Roesler, New York. His curatorial practice involves working in close collaboration with Brazilian contemporary artists and situating them amongst their precedents.
Ja estava assim quando eu cheguei is co-curated by the artist Sebastiaan Bremer. Bremer’s recent series of Brazilian waterfalls became one of the starting points for the exhibition. By interspersing the waterfall works with the works of the Brazilian artists, they allow a perspective of Brazil from the outside.
Aéreo, 2020 | Acrylic and inks on digital pigment print | 139, 7 x 109,2 cm
Sebastiaan Bremer€ 21.000,- (Excl. tax)
The Brazilian works by Sebastiaan Bremer included in Já Estava Assim Quando Eu Cheguei were started when he found some old slides in his father-in-law’s office. They showed the Seven Falls of Guaíra, or Sete Quedas – a submerged waterfall, which was destroyed by the construction of the largest hydroelectric dam in the world in 1982. The only color of the slides which remained was orange, all other colors of the slide emulsion having been erased by time, not unlike the waterfalls themselves.
The contradictions inherent in the dam project mirror the contradictions of civilization, in Bremer’s view; in harnessing energy to provide for their homes and their industries, human beings dissipate the very nurturing qualities this earth has to offer. Thus, per Bremer, the solutions of today can become the problems of tomorrow. In his work based on these photographic images, the artist brings the falls back to life with small marks of paint and ink, to reverse history.
Poor Niagara, 2020 | Acrylic and inks on digital pigment print | 46,5 x 59,5 cm (framed)
Sebastiaan Bremer€ 6.000,- (Excl. tax)
Chororo Yguasu, 2020 | Acrylic and inks on digital pigment print | 40,5 x 27 cm
Sebastiaan Bremer€ 6.000,- (Excl. tax)
“When working on the old sepia works I was alerted of a documentary work by Heloisa Passos, in which she incorporates 8mm footage of the Seite Quedas into a personal film about Passos, her father, and the work he did on large infrastructure projects in Brazil during the dictatorship, when the Itaipu dam was built. The film was degraded into the same hue as the slides from my father-in-law’. The serendipitous discovery of these colored films propelled itself into my thinking, especially as I was in the process of curating a group show with Frederik Schampers. The obvious dialogue between my work and thinking about Brazil and Heloisa’s work was too clear to ignore.”
– Sebastiaan Bremer
Courtesy the artist and Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Artur Lescher’s work attests to his constant experimentation with materials, their physical qualities and objectual characteristics. In his work, he makes constant reference to natural elements, which when reproduced impeccably by means of industrial processes, reveal and deny these real allusions.
Artur Lescher (BR, 1962) emerged in the mid-1980s, influenced by the Neo-Concrete movement (Mira Schendel, Helio Oiticica, Sergio Camargo), into the Brazilian art scene. From this point of rupture he has presented his work in some major museums and institutions of Brazil, including the São Paulo Biennale, Biennale Mercosur, MAC and MAM in São Paulo, Brazil. He has also exhibited his work at Palais D’Iena in Paris; France, Mana Contemporary, in Jersey, USA; MAMBA, in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, in Berlin, Germany. His works are included in major public collections such as those of the MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, USA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
Anaxi, 2020 | cabrueva wood | 143 x 5 cm
Since the 1980s, Lescher has been creating austere, poetic sculptures, objects, and installations through which he investigates the mechanics of form and movement, balance and tension. For example, Anaxi (2020) is a pendulum that mirrors the original shape of Lescher’s 1998 pendulum, generating two identical articulated forms that connect subtly, thus creating a feeling of suspension
The engineering of his work and the awareness of mechanical relationships lead to symbolic and poetic layers of meaning. The syntax of Tuluminate (2019) evokes images of a relationship between a female and male nature. This relationship is presented as a balance. The feminine element involves the masculine like an atmosphere. A poetic discourse becomes also visible in Rio Léthê (2020), which is inspired by the infinite movement of the Léthê river. The flexible form of this sculpture spreads as a continuous flow in which things are immersed in silence.
Já estava assim quando eu cheguei, 2015 | wood, resin and marble | 102 x 110 x 136 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
The exhibition is centered around Carlito Carvalhosa’s work, Já estava assim quando eu cheguei, which also inspired the title of the exhibition. The sculpture is molded after Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf mountain, placed upside down, and cut in half. According to Paulo Herkenhoff, “the work harks back to a […] primordial time […] when it asserts that the rock–a monumental geological accident–”was there when I got here” and had no name, only form.
Carlito Carvalhosa does not establish any dichotomy between the disparate times of “arrival” and “being there before”. Rather the work addresses the constitutive moment of the sentient subject. This difference between the ego and the world (that was “already” there) is consciousness itself.” The work is not anchored in one moment, nor in the experience of one person, but rather captures the idea of consciously encountering the monumental world that we live in – epitomizing the feeling of anyone who steps into Brazil and discovers its land.
About the artist
Carlito Carvalhosa ascribes deep eloquence to the materiality of the mediums he uses, always transcending their formal aspects to explore matters of time and space. In his practice, one encounters a tension between form and materiality through a disjunction of the visible and the tactile – what we see is not what we touch, and what we touch is not what we see.
Carlito Carvalhosa was born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil. He currently lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has exhibited widely, notably at Museum of Modern Art in New York, USA, and Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP) in São Paulo, Brazil. His works are included in collections such as Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami, USA; MAM São Paulo and MAM Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
Pampulha #2, 2018 | C-Print | 90 x 90 cm
Courtesy the artist and Fortes D’Aloia Gabriel, Sao Paolo
A subtle interjection comes into the exhibition through Mauro Restiffe’s Pampulha #2. The work is a photograph of Pampulha in Belo Horizonte, a residential area organized around a man-made lagoon. The piece acts as a token of human intervention – it is a testament to how nature has been altered by society throughout the world, linking us back to the Dutch experience. Pampulha #2 is an innuendo, a clin-d’oeil, that intertwines rather than differentiates the questions of the man-made versus nature, in both Brazil and The Netherlands.
About the artist
Modernist architecture has been a great source of inspiration for Mauro Restiffe. In his work, the Brazilian photographer responds to the architecture of people like Philip Johnson and Oscar Niemeyer, revealing the unexpected combination of architecture and landscape design, of indoor and outdoor settings. Restiffe’s work focuses on unobserved details and traces of human presence within nature.
Restiffe was born in São José do Rio Pardo, Brazil, in 1970. He currently lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. He has exhibited worldwide, including OGR Torino, Italy; Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil; Garage Museum, Moscow, Russia; and the MAC-USP, São Paulo, Brazil. His work is part of many international collections, such as MoMA, New York, USA; SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil; Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; MASP, São Paulo; MAM, São Paulo; and Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo, Brazil, among others.
Courtesy the artist and Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo
Laura Lima’s practice is one of constant subversion: an invitation to look again, to re-read, and re-conceive existing notions and categories of art history. It is a practice of de-stabilization that investigates the territory where classical notions of painting, sculpture and performance meet other more challenging notions such as situation, instances, indexes and experiences. In her work, the viewer occupies an unusual position, playing a crucial role in the construction and enactment of the image. The viewer is invited to put on a mask, another hat, or to step into new shoes, and is offered the possibility of activating a new gaze that is touched by the artist.
Started in 2007, Nomads is a series of masks displayed as paintings in the exhibition space. They are made of canvas with depictions of traditional Baroque landscape paintings. They cannot be touched in the museum, but can be worn in the artist’s studio. Nomads confronts the spectator with the fact that a landscape is a human construction. In theory, one is behind a mask wearing it, or is in front of it as a spectator, one either bears or reads the landscape. The landscape is an abstract construct within language; outside of it, it’s just a constinuous cycle with nature, which includes humans.
For the work Nomad (2019), Laura Lima employs a copyist to paint replicas of centuries-old landscape paintings. Operating under Laura’s instruction, the copyist subtly modifies and translates the scenes, sometimes removing people or replacing the original vegetation with samples copied from botany books. Lima then folds and cuts the canvases, displaying these translations of paintings from the past as masks or portraits concealing the face. By removing subjects from these scenes, the humans can be imagined behind the eyes of the mask.
Nomad, 2019 | Oil and acrylic on canvas | 80 x 113 x 10 cm
The bodies of the captain and his partner Zequinha, end of the journey, 2020 | Acrylic paint on wood | 25 x 26 x 3 cm
Courtesy the artist and Galeria Athena, Rio de Janeiro
Raised in the neighborhood Nacional, in Contagem (Minas Gerais, Brazil), Desali explores his surroundings and urban experience in different ways. Friends and close neighbors of the artist are a recurrent motif, besides his depictions of the changing cityscape of Belo Horizonte. His walks around the city inspire him to interact with his environment. Having lived in the favelas (slums) and experienced the effects of forced displacement, Desali’s paintings are not mere representations of everyday life; they respond to socio-political issues and call for collective action.
(Other) Foundations (2017-2019) by Aline Motta is the last installment of a trilogy that began in 2017 with Bridges over the Abyss, followed by If the sea had balconies. The film talks about the consequences of the journey that the artist undertook in search of her roots. It questions the sense of belonging to a place that might not acknowledge its seemly evident kinship. The work brings together Lagos in Nigeria, Cachoeira in Bahia and her home state Rio de Janeiro in Brazil through the waters and bridges that connect the three cities and their common ancestral background.
(Other) Foundations presents nature as an emblem for an endless struggle with the often overlooked history of diaspora that landed Brazil. In speaking of her work, Aline Motta says, ‘I’ve used water and its transmutational qualities as a vehicle for connection, for the unearthing of long-buried memories, and a search for belonging,’ entwining the notion of nature with that of regeneration, of healing and once more, of national history.
Courtesy the artist
Aline Motta was born in Niterói, Brazil, in 1974. She lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. In her work, she combines different techniques and artistic practices, merging photography, video, installation, performance, sound art, collage, and textile materials. Her research seeks to reveal other forms of material existence, create meaning and remind us of ancestral memories.
Moças, 2018 | Acrylic on fabric | 72 x 72 cm
Courtesy the artist and Fortes D’Aloia Gabriel, São Paulo
Leda Catunda has sought since the 1990s to reach agreeable and sensual forms, making use of fabrics and other malleable and light materials, referring to elements from nature. Her work aims at raising curiosity as well as tactile sensations, but keeps the critical trace, turned to the vulgarization of images in contemporary society. The title ‘Mocas’ means ‘young women’, which are painted on her iconic ‘tongue’ shaped elements.
About the artist
Leda Catunda explores the boundary between painting and object in tactile, abstract wall works that incorporate textiles and often resemble organic forms, such as drops of water, tongues, and flies. Interested in painting that transcends the picture plane and showcases its materiality, Catunda creates large-scale works composed of unusual fabrics, which she lays over the canvas and applies paint to. The result is not exactly painting; it’s rather a way of contextualizing totally different elements and recreating them with a new meaning.
Leda Catunda (BR, 1961) lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. She participated in three editions of the São Paulo Biennial and has showcased her work in institutions such as MoMA, New York, USA; and Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, France. Her work is included in the collection of Pinacoteca, São Paulo, Brasil; Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brasil; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Netherlands, amongst others.