'And if things lie to us?', Carlos Nunes

Artist: Carlos Nunes
Dates: October 22nd – December 3rd 2016
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Carlos Nunes’ work appears as an attempt to grasp the mystery of commonplace objects. When considered aside from their names, function or usual context, how to approach their other possible meanings and to uncover the silent relations between them? Lacking univocal answers, the Brazilian artist continuously uses playful methods to induce new ways of apprehending and organizing these everyday objects, insisting in solving the unending riddle of the world’s hidden order. Among the criteria he privileges in his praxis – namely in his recent work showcased in this exhibition -, are luminosity scales and, by extension, gradation of colors.

Newton’s Disc is an emblematic example of Nunes’ empirical exercises. As the title indicates, the artist replicates Newton’s experiment but, instead of using a disc divided into seven color segments, according to the rainbow spectrum, the artist displays seven items in a circle in the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. As the device starts to rotate the colors do not fade entirely into white, as it is the case in Newton’s original apparatus. In the artist’s video, the objects-color progressively dissolve into psychedelic forms and silhouettes morphing into each other in constant movement. As if they were persistently hesitating whether to remain invisible or to emerge from this incessant flux. More than an postulate on the scientific nature of color as part of the spectrum of light, Nunes’ piece examines how our perception and understanding of objects can be modified by the conditions in which they are presented. To a certain extent, this is also the case in Coincident Lumen Sculptures, in which he associates apparently unrelated objects in the exhibition space. The reason the artist juxtaposes them in rather arbitrary compositions is revealed in a black and white photographs of the same arrangements. The different items present a similar tonality of gray, indicating that, despite their heteroclite nature, their colors share a same degree of luminosity. The function of the objects suddenly seem less important than their condition as receptacles of color and light.

Orange 03 reiterates this conception and approach of everyday objects. Nunes presents a clay sculpture in the shape of a real-size orange next to a serigraphy with a wide gradation of orange nuances. The title and the serigraphy induces the spectator to immediately understand the piece as a reference to the fruit. The artificial and colorless suggestion of its shape, however, could also allude to any other spherical element. The artist thus creates an uncanny situation that denies and at the same time reinforces the very idea of that fruit, closely identified to its color. In a similar exercise, in Chromo redundancy, the artist projects a photograph of a lime on a wall painted in the same color. Superimposing the material pigment on the wall to the mainly yellow image projected on it, the artist presents us with a chromatic pleonasm in which the lime seems to lose its quality as a singular object to almost blend into the uniform yellow surface.

In fact, most of Nunes’ pieces suggest, at first, that the diverse elements he uses are part of a bigger picture. At the same time they are embedded into an undivided whole, they actually never completely lose their individuality. Silly and pretentious drawings on light and time, a series of abstract compositions, is characterized by a progression of shades of graphite, from the brightest to the darkest tone. This gradient effect is a result of the accumulation of layers of aquarellable graphite on ever reducing parcels of the surface. When considered all together, the different drawings give the impression of a smooth transition and continuity in their gradation of luminosity, but with a closer look, each nuance is separated one from another.

If many philosophers have addressed this dialectics between an intrinsic unity and multiplicity, Rudolf Steiner’s world view could contribute to the reading of the Nunes’ work. In fact, he conceived reality as an indivisible unity, but that had to be segmented in order to be perceptible and palpable to our senses, as well as comprehensible to our minds. In a way, Carlos Nunes’ response to the world’s unceasing stimuli is to analyze and catalogue objects and elements by means of their chromatic and luminous qualities. But as he constantly (re-)formulates this existential contradiction in his drawings, serigraphs, photographs and assemblages devoid of functional or narrative significance, he also points to the impossibility of apprehending reality in all its complexity. Maybe because its meaning lies less in the materiality and situation of the objects themselves than in their perception by a beholder.

Carlos Nunes (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1969) holds a degree in visual arts from the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (FAAP, São Paulo). He studied also at the Saint Martins School of Arts, in London. In 2005, he moved to Buenos Aires, where he lived and worked for three years. His most notably solo shows include Triunfo das cores, amor e música, sobre os maldosos azuis (Centro de Cultura Británica, São Paulo, 2010; Prêmio Cultura Inglesa), Até o fim (MAC Curitiba, 2009) and Amarelo (Espaço Laika, São Paulo, 2011). He also participated in the group exhibitions Abre alas (Galeria a Gentil Carioca, 2012), Fidalga no Paço (Paço das Artes, 2010), Entre tempos (Carpe diem, Lisbon, 2009), Em torno de (Funarte, São Paulo, 2009), Paralela (Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2007). He participated in art residencies in Matadero (Madrid, Spain, 2014) and Tokyo (Japan, 2015). The exhibition Modus Operandi (Sao Paulo,Brazil, 2013, Galeria Raquel Arnaud). In 2016 he participated in the group exhibition Tomar posición in Ponce+Robles Gallery in Madrid and the solo exhibition A luz (nublada) no museu, curated by Fatima Lambert in Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, in Oporto.

This is his first solo eshibition in Spain