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Previous Exhibition

06/04/2021 - 03/10/2021

A rooster alone does not weave the dawn

A Rooster Alone Does Not Weave The Dawn is part of a long dialogue on ideas of collaboration, exchange, resilience, but most of all – time. There is no escaping to how time has become more than ever central in our lives. Our deep powerlessness towards its inevitability is now, more than ever, exposed. We were suddenly reduced to being with our own selves a lot more (even when amongst family or friends of the same household), and decision-making became concentrated on the basic day-to-day basic chores.

When thinking of this year long project and what could come of it, many ideas came and went, many false-starts got in the way, we were postponed, and postponed and postponed. What never left us, in fact, was time, even if in its most abstract form, occasionally faster, other times slower, sometimes real and present or mostly just omnipresent in our subconsciousness. Cooperation and togetherness were definitely another motto we held on to, thus the choice of title being the first sentence of the beautiful poem Weaving the Morning by João Cabral de Melo Neto. After all, it has been Quetzal Art Centre’s essential line of thought in each of its projects, since its inception five years ago and thus absolutely inescapable in this set of exhibitions as well. All works exhibited in this first iteration intertwine between profound notions of the self and, on the other hand show a revel of what was most missed in our lives for endless months: the other, togetherness, celebrating life and most of all being able to simply exist and know that without other roosters, a morning is never well woven.

Aveline de Bruin
Luiza Teixeira de Freitas

 

With works by Ericka Beckman | Sara Bichão | Hugo Canoilas | Mattia Denisse | Rita Ferreira | Henri Jacobs | Belen Uriel | Stephen Wilks.

 

 

Hugo Canoilas

Osmosis is a wall commission by Hugo Canoilas.

Departing from an idea to develop and produce traces of paintings on the wall as they happen in his own studio walls, and use them as non-rational maps where some imagery around his previous grotto project could be placed. The grotto was a project developed by Hugo Canoilas with Galeria Quadrado Azul, in Lisbon. Using part of the gallery’s basement floor, the grotto worked as a collective work and an experimental platform that seeked to create a community between a group of artists, the gallery and its audience. The wall he produced for Quetzal (2021), unfolds a map of already done interventions, historical associations, and many desires. The marks are made with high fluid acrylic paint on a thin canvas and water and the imagery is transferred (with a special water-based material) from digital prints into the wall. The way they are done creates a kind of camouflage or discovery game of the viewer, who seeks to discover among the wall-painting the hidden insertions.

Sara Bichão & Mattia Denisse

Sara Bichão’s artistic practice has the experimental, the plastic and the organic as fundamental to the thought and development behind her work. There is a rhythm that punctuates each sculpture, each drawing and their relationship to each other. Furthermore, her research process also has an immaterial concept; that of memory. Transposed to the works through the most diverse materials she uses, making its physicality an evidence, in a constant game of experimentalism, exploring the bodily capacities of those same materials that she works with. Here, we find, for the most part, a set of works created during the period of isolation that has been experienced globally in the last year and a half, during which the concept of time took on a whole new meaning – time to think, to find, to experiment. It is from this moment of suspension that new compositions, new colors, new materials emerge, which contain all the plastic and visual characteristics (already so striking) of Sara Bichão’s work, add to these the influence of time that isolation brought. The works turn out to be a kind of self-portraits of that moment, reflections of a personal dive into the infinity of days.

The same is felt in the works of Mattia Denisse, presented in dialogue with the works of Sara Bichão, Denisse, a multifaceted artist with a very comprehensive artistic practice, presents a set of reflections on the idea of a ​​self-portrait. Produced on paper, all in the same format, we see distortions in different forms, where we can still find or recognize that each one of them, directly or indirectly, contains some physical characteristic of the artist. Conceptually, Denisse is interested in a continuous investigation, regardless of its time, focused on symbology and language systems. His research takes shape mainly through the graphic techniques of drawing, through which he chronicles everyday scenes in hybrid environments between the exterior and the interior, reality and fiction. In this reflection and decision of the artist to include himself in the composition in a way that is not always recognizable, we can see that these works are self-portraits without portraits, if we can put it that way.

 

Rita Ferreira

Rita Ferreira is a young artist dedicated to the investigation of painting as painting. In the encounter with her works, we experience absorption through color, dimension, the malleability of each brushstroke. Initially abstract, the images we come across with, quickly take on other forms, which often confuse us in relation to the title that accompanies them. In the series of works presented in this exhibition, Rita Ferreira explores in an unconscious way, the idea of ​​peeling a flower, extending the idea of ​​the archival gesture into the unfolding of several paintings, which somehow suggest the immensity of her creative process. In an insistent and persistent gesture practice, the artist manages, with each drawing, with each painting, to demonstrate more of the way in which this “herbarium” like presentation is realized in a permanent construction. The paintings are inspired by parasitic plants, which are part of the artist’s imagination and history. This characteristic combined with the scale of the works, somewhat monumental, also contributes to making us feel somehow swallowed by each work.

Belén Uriel & Henri Jacobs

The materiality of objects and their relationship with space are at the heart of Belén Uriel’s body of work. Highly sculptural, her works allude to various elements – architectural fragments, everyday objects or even parts of the human body, with which we establish visual relationships, and which reveal this plasticity that she communicates in all her works. The delicacy in a sometimes dubious fragility and the particularity in the choice of color are also distinct characteristics and identifiable in her practice, as is the dexterity conveyed and in which she controls each chosen material. In this exhibition there is a series of sculptures of composed of molds for clothes baskets, that serve as pedestals for cloth napkins, in turn, individually worked as an “almost-origami”. The diversity of colors chosen for the baskets is allusive to the variety of gradients of party confettis, and together with the numerous possibilities for folding the napkins, gives this set of works an astonishing formal grandiosity.  The various ways of folding and using the cloth napkins takes the imagination to traditional bourgeois tables and are a reference to socializing, celebration, to the event. In turn, the plastic baskets are associated with the everyday triviality of any home, removing from the final composition any more aristocratic idealism that one might want to attribute to it.

In this same room one can also see the work of Henri Jacobs ‘Quatre Champs’ (Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Night). Four large tapestries form a landscape, each representing a moment of the day. All different from each other, not only in their aesthetics, in the concept they represent and that which characterizes them; as well as in the tones and colors which compose them. Together they give space to a field perspective, an idea of ​​time, its passage and its cycles. The color gradually becomes darker over the four stages, in the end, all fields, at different times of day, offer a unique view and drawdown.

Ericka Beckman

Ericka Beckman’s Cinderella film from1986, is structured around an arcane game filled with allegories. The main character Cinderella, goes through various levels of narrative, shifting from different types of representational space, digital versus real, sculptural versus filmic. Although Beckman’s work clearly shows the vibe of arcade video games and cinema from the 80’s, it’s still, thirty years on, very modern in its look and content.

This story of Cinderella is a different fairy tale, where she becomes part of a game that serves as a symbol for society’s restrictions on women. She works as a sweating labour at a fireplace, while taunted by the whistle of an abstracted blue clock tower and by an accordion-wielding companion played by the artist Mike Kelley, until she is finally transformed into a princess in a bright green blue dress, dancing in a digital game-world in which she has three chances to end up with the prince. After several failed attempts, Cinderella knows how to win, but is not interested in the prince anymore. Ericka Beckman cites with this the still relevant questions about female individuality in a post-industrial age, dealing with both conventional gender anticipations and the emergence of virtual systems.

CINDERELLA is a musical treatment of the fairy tale. I have broken apart the story and set it as a mechanical game with a series of repetitions where CINDERELLA is projected back and forth like a ping-pong ball between the hearth and the castle. She never succeeds in satisfying the requirements of the ‘Cinderella Game’.” (Ericka Beckman, 1984)

The composite print Cinderella game 1-4, 2015, are four colour photographs that bring together the real-life Cinderella and her various obstacles – the heart, a castle, a floating x, a puppet like robot – that float over the graphic lines that fade into depth.

Stephen Wilks

Stephan Wilks is best known for his performances, Animal Farm and Trojan Donkey. The fascination with anthropomorphic iconography, in which human characteristics are ascribed to animals, often plays an important role in the artist’s practice. For Animal Farm, Wilks occurred in the project based on the satirical story of George Orwell (1945), into the human-animal universe; he organized street parades, with larger than life animals that were carried by people on hands. The issue of corruption of ideals was being raised: ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.’

The Trojan Donkey project started in Berlin with Wilks carrying a life-sized stuffed donkey on his back. He says that he always had “the desire to create a traveling artwork – to find a form and idea for an autonomous vehicle or vessel, which moved across cities and amongst people lives – in and out of private and public space.” After that, more donkeys were ‘born’ and travelled around the world and stayed with people who in their turn gave the donkey a personal layer. During the journeys, their bellies are filled up with notes, photographs, sketches, hence the name trojan donkey.  The encounters, the memories, the individual realities are transported along with the continuity of travel. The donkeys become mediators and producers of social intersubjectivity.

‘Wearing a donkey on the back’ refers not only to regional English slang, but also to humour noir, described by Surrealist André Breton (1935). But there is more inspiration from literature, films and everyday encounters that in one way or another have been essential for the story Wilks created with the donkeys. As animals Donkeys are invariably associated with the poor, serfdom, humility, burden, libido and oppression as opposed to the symbol of the horse for example which evokes, nobility, finesse and most significantly the projection of power and status. To carry a donkey is absurd, nevertheless the idea gives space for the notion of the reversal of Power turning the world upside down. A beautiful poetic gesture that gives birth to new meaning, dialogue and sense of connection and community.

The carousel that is shown at the Quetzal Art Centre symbolizes all the different donkeys that travel the world. On the back of figurines, they move in a mechanical rotating sculpture that refers to the orrery, an early eighteen century astronomical machine that mimicked the rotation of the planets. The donkeys on the carousel turn all-in different rhythms according to the seize of their gear and so, they reflect the spontaneous way the travelling donkeys could interact with others.

Wilks says: “Often people ask me about when the donkey project will finish, it’s a cumulative work and the whole theme of the donkeys traveling keeps generating new ideas.” Thus the idea of creating a new donkey in Portugal, made with fabrics from the Alentejo region, which are  used many times to make donkey bags out of them. This donkey will travel from the fall of 2021 onwards and will add to the stories already told. We are already looking forward to telling the new journey of the Trojan Donkey.

Program 2021-2022

For the future we are looking forward to showing more hidden gems from the family collection and to strengthen our connections with the Portuguese art scene through collaboration. Following this mindset, we have invited Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, curator based in Lisbon, to be our curator at large for 2021-2022 to work together with Aveline de Bruin on the program. Luiza has collaborated with us in the past but more than that has been a close friend and confident throughout the years.

Taken from a poem by João Cabral de Melo Neto, the title for this year’s collaboration at Quetzal Art Centre, A rooster alone does not weave the dawn alludes to the importance of working together, of cooperation, of dialogue. Working together, Aveline de Bruin and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas will curate a variety of projects, group exhibitions and solo presentations by artists, trying to respond with sensibility to these strange times the world goes through. Intertwining and enabling for a variety of ideas to exist parallel to each other, the mind-set is to focus on the present whilst allowing for discovery, collaboration and encounter. Just like in the poem, believing that each dawn brings us a new opportunity to do so.

“I am thrilled and very much looking forward in working together with Aveline. We have collaborated in the past and from that experience I know the pleasure it is, not only to work with her, but also to be part of a project that enables for art to happen in such a special and unique setting. Furthermore, to incentivate that art leaves the urban centres and finds way and space in more remote and rural locations. Our focus this year will be mostly the local Portuguese panorama and in an abstract and organic way to reflect the times we are living through. We are, as everyone else in the world, conditioned to take each decision as we go along, and it is with this responsibility in mind that we will build a sensible thorough programme.” 

Luiza Teixeira de Freitas is an independent curator based in Lisbon. Among the various projects she is involved with, her curatorial work with private collections stands out, as well as her active relationship with independent publications and artist books, having launched her own publisher Taffimai in 2018. Although based in Portugal, she frequently works with projects in São Paulo, New York, London, Los Angeles and the Middle East.

Aveline de Bruin and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas (photo: Goncalo F. Santos)