Galería Ehrhardt Flórez

Exhibitions

  • Sarmento

Dad

25/01/2014 - 09/03/2014
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.
Sarmento, DAD (2014), installation view.

The Heinrich Ehrhardt Gallery is presenting the work of the Portuguese artist Julião Sarmento. Under the title DAD, Sarmento brings together a series of his latest pieces, photographs, paintings and sculptures, which are arranged around one main installation which takes up the entire exhibition space of the gallery. DAD is an elliptical exhibition, whose discourse is circular and in which all the project’s pieces and works build up an extensive cartography of associations. Many of the concepts and subjects that appear in some of the works re-emerge in others, while the general ideas are transposed into specific meanings which reveal a complex fabric of interweaving allusions to the core subjects of Sarmento’s work. The female body, floors of buildings, reflections on pictorial gestures and references to Edgar Degas and Marcel Duchamp constitute the keys to a centrifugal installation which takes specific iconography as its point of departure and ends up dealing with with a plurality of relations.

All of this is visibly brought together in First Easy Piece, the main installation here, which takes shape around a grey-painted wall, a sculpture arranged on top of wooden pallets and an array of works hung on the wall. The sculpture is an interpretation of Edgar Degas’ famous figure, The Little Fourteen–Year–Old Dancer, which Julião Sarmento now uses as an almost conceptual reference, to pervert and even strengthen, in his new sculptural model, some of the features that made this piece transgressive and provocative in 1881.

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A memory of the scandal that Degas generated when he exhibited this work in one of the Impressionist shows still vaguely remains when Sarmento introduces the figure and lends it certain physical characteristics; its prominent chest, complete nudity, which contrast with an uncanny cannon in which the size of the figure creates a certain distortion with regards to reality. If the original piece stirred up such a scandal it was due to its brutal realism: the painting imitated the colour of the skin, the hair was real and her clothes were authentic; now, in the case of Sarmento, the naked figure is, if possible, even more realistic, at least with respect to form and eroticism. However, despite using a model generated by 3D printer as a point of departure, which as such lends the sculpture an absolutely realistic form, that realism is, simultaneously, a perturbing fiction. Such is its purity that it turns into something inhumane. The copy of the form.

A ready-made rendered in the image and likeness of the female body, in which the texture of the piece and the body, halfway between youth and maturity, half erotic and half distant, creates tensions between its overwhelming presence and the absence of something which we, as spectators, will never be able to grasp. And alongside the sculpture, on the wall, hang various works which engage specifically with these subjects; void, abstraction, construction, architecture and colour, as well as a brief explicative drawing which alludes directly to the idea of ellipsis and another reference to Duchamp which almost becomes a disguised response to that famous question asked by the French artist, Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy?, whose title, modified and inverted, constitutes Sarmento’s vision of Duchamp’s conceptual and artistic uncertainties. Here Sarmento suggests evasive, elusive and ambiguous forms as the inevitable raison d’être of human finiteness. A dilemma between ending and continuation, between nothingness and being, between the past and the present.

The way these subjects flow is, in fact, an old Duchampian notion which pervades the exhibition alongside Degas’ earlier transgression, and suggests a certain dehumanisation of art; the disappearance of form when confronted with pure form.

This exhibition therefore constitutes a great still life, like those presented by Duchamp at the end of his life with Étant Donnés; a labyrinth of many possible entries and exits, but with just one repeated subject, the elliptical vision of the artistic subject par excellence. A circular motion of becoming offering barely any escape, which starts and finishes over and over again in an untiring state of stupefaction and reflection in which we, while trapped, defy, as does Sarmento’s dancer, the historical idea of realistic representation, of real and fictional space, of time and its perception. An absent and unique place.

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