after the shock, the tropics
exhibition by Beto Shwafaty and Pedro Vaz
April 07 — May 12 2018
Anexo (rua Padre João Manuel 974a)
Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, and Kubikgallery, Porto, invite for the opening of the exhibition “after the shock, the tropics”, a transatlantic partnership to foster dialogues between Brazilian and Portuguese artists. The joint initiative presents recent works by Beto Shwafaty (São Paulo 1977, lives and works in São Paulo), artist represented by Luisa Strina, and Pedro Vaz (Maputo, Moçambique, 1977; lives and works in Lisbon), represented by Kubikgallery.
Operating from a postcolonial point of view, the dialogue emphasizes the Eurocentric and imperialist views, on the one hand, and cordial and colonized, on the other, which have historically permeated relations between Europe and Brazil, albeit veiled. The two artists start from places of speech that are openly hybrid: Vaz, Portuguese born in an ex-colony, and neopilgrim of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest; Shwafaty, a Brazilian who investigated colonial processes over a period of stay in England. The selection of works for the exhibition is a reflection of those paradoxes: it is focused on works that are critical and inflexible in relation to the contemporary spoils of the conflicts that last more than 500 years.
In the series Açúcar nas Veias [Sugar Blues] (2017), never shown in Brazil, Shwafaty uses drawings made with sugar, tea and coffee on translucent paper, later heated in an oven. Each drawing presents a word or phrase that, when juxtaposed, constitutes an evocative cartography, indicating possible constellations of concepts, characters and dates related to places, episodes, and information regarding aspects of war, conquest, commerce, revolt, and slavery which have informed the expansions of global colonialism. Thus the relations between specific elements, places, names and processes carried out by the European empires with their former colonies are the focal points of these explorations in drawing. Metaphorically, this series employs the contraction of information to give way to an expansion of questions and readings.
The set of paintings of the series Atlântica (2015) and Caminho do Ouro (2016-17), by Pedro Vaz, derives from a vast research that culminated in a pedestrian expedition undertaken by the artist along the historical route between Paraty and Ouro Preto, known as “Gold road”, with the purpose of revisiting elements of the first images of Brazil that circulated in Europe, and whose diffusion was made in panoramic support. Rugendas and Debret were some of their performers. One of the most publicized was Vistas do Brasil, by Julien Deltil. The attempt to transmit the landscape as an experience is inscribed in its technical solutions: Vistas do Brasil executed a 360º loop within a dimension of 3 x 15 m. The involvement that these panoramas provided created a simulated immersion in the landscape to which they referred, given the impossibility of their actual experience. Their authors had the pretension to reactivate the space-time presence, in an effort to replace the mere pictorial representation by lived landscape. The experience of the place instead of the picture of the place. Remaking the logic of the expedition through an unknown “natural” landscape, Pedro Vaz chooses to forge completely subjective “records” that do not replace the image of a place, but instead offer a set of abstract and intimate sensations about the experience of the place.
Sugar Blues (2017) emerged in an artistic residency that Beto Shwafaty held at Gasworks (London), where he began new research on relations between Brazil, Portugal and England that date back to colonial times and still print their echoes nowadays; it is also a continuation of the artist’s interest in the implications of colonialism and modernism manifested in earlier projects such as Remediations (2010-2014) and Phantom Matrix (2016). In London, the artist began an investigation into how certain commodities – and the processes they promote – have generated global relationships and narratives that have impacted the vast cultural and economic fabrics of ancient European empires and their colonies.
In addition to forming an evocative map of relationships, as a collection of memories, facts, rumors, places, and events, Shwafaty’s groups of drawings function as a visual manifestation of disparate (always forgotten) relationships that have generated dramas, tragedies, and experiences involved in exploitation of goods and the wealth they have generated. Such a legacy of imperial stories – a legacy that is difficult, controversial, and painful to be recognized, that still leaves traces, affecting all of us – has everywhere imprinted marks suggesting that the ramifications of these imperial relations are still far from over.
Opening: Saturday, 7 April, 11am to 5pm
Visiting hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Visiting dates: 7 April to 12 May, 2018