Desmanchar, Desfaz (Disrupt, Dissolve) Quadra, São Paulo 13 August – 15 October
The three or four figures – it’s hard to tell – of Tatiana Chalhoub’s wall work O Sepultamento (The Entombment) (2018–22) seem to be slowly fading from view. Made up of a grid of eight ceramic plaques, collectively almost 1.4m in width, the artist’s scene delineates their outline by the absence of colour against a scenery of washy blue and turquoise enamel. As the title suggests, Chalhoub is portraying the inevitable end of us all, bodies rotting back into the ground. ‘Behold this compost!’ as Walt Whitman would have it. (Chalhoub’s figures are literally made of ceramic mud.)
The work is one of almost two dozen paintings and sculptures by young Brazilian artists brought together by guest curator Guilherme Teixeira that ruminate poetically on notions of breakdown, fragmentation and disintegration. A small painting by Ana Cláudia Almeida, Sol em queda (Falling Sun, 2022), lurid in its abstract expressionist freeform brushstrokes of orange, yellow, blue and green, is coupled with a second, much larger canvas by the artist.
The latter, unstretched, hangs by just a corner from the wall, the rest of the canvas falling to the floor as if the composition is disintegrating into an oily, painterly, puddle. Ana Clara Tito’s collage Cinema (2022) combines torn blue photographic prints with fragments of concrete and masonry. Like Almeida’s work it also speaks to a state of ruin. An upturned bench, a sculpture by Marcelo Pacheco seemingly flytipped, the stretched spring of its seat devoid of the furnishings, stands at one end of the gallery. At the opposite end is Coluna Infinita (Infinite Column, 2022) by Manu Costa Lima, a Brâncuși homage made from balanced foam bricks, each sandwiched between slices of sandstone – the finite countered by the apparently limitless.
There is, naturally, an ecological undertone to all this, though the politics is kept refreshingly subtle. Animals, as representatives of nonhuman life, only make appearances in two artists’ works: Arorá’s series of five faint chalk and pencil drawings depict jellyfishlike forms on graph paper and Marian Woisky’s Tapetes (2020) – a show highlight – is a printed, stued and sewn fabric diptych of a big cat on the prowl through a forest. Instead Teixeira’s curatorial reference points seem art-historical, mingling timeless questions of the sublime with today’s more pressing anxieties about our decaying world. Oliver Basciano