By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANERIO, BRAZIL – Over the past few decades, artists have been expanding their practice to include experimental methods and a number of media into their art making. They no longer feel the need to be defined as one kind of an artist – painter, sculptor, printmaker, etc. In a sense it is a return to the Renaissance Man, where expertise in several fields of study was the mark of a man’s intellect.
Carlos Eduardo Felix da Costa, or more casually known in the art world as Cadu, is an artist who seems to follow this philosophy very intently. Cadu’s art practice has a wide wing span that covers traditional mediums of drawing and painting all the way to highly technological pieces that use sophisticated modern gadgetry.
At present, Cadu’s show Entardecer no Ano do Coelho (Dusk in the Year of the Rabbit) is on display at the Laura Alvim Gallery in Ipanema. The title refers to both the current Chinese horoscope year as well as the famed sunsets of the Ipanema beach.
Upon entering the gallery, one is immediately struck by numerous tinkling sounds, music and whirring, from different artworks intermingling. This perhaps sets the mood for the whole exhibition: whimsical yet serious, fleeting but cyclic.
The first display is the video titled Sketch for Winter, made to the music of The Durutti Column, an English post-punk band formed in the late 70s. The images in the video seem unrelated at the surface but the more it is seen on loop and the text read time and again, an abstract understanding of transitory time begins to dawn.
The tinkling sound invites the viewer into another room where Partitura (Musical Score) is installed. A large table in the middle of the room is set up with numerous bottles and glasses of all sizes and colors.
Amidst them runs a winding train track on which a small electric train travels endlessly. Jutting out the sides of the train are thin metal wires that constantly strike the glassware to produce an assortment of low and high pitches, hence the title Musical Score.
The most interesting and disconcerting work on display has to be the Pégaso (Pegasus), a mechanical installation that responds to motion sensors detecting the proximity of the viewer. Four metal contraptions are mounted on to the wall at eye level. Each has four bronze fingers facing downwards that are tipped with strands of black horse hair.
The contrivance is wired to a control box and four motion sensor motors on the floor. As soon as the viewer’s presence is detected the tiny motors on the machinery kick into motion, setting off a bizarre tapping on the wall by the four fingers. It goes on and on in a rhythm, one following the other.
Other works on display include the Nantucket Island series, large oil-on-paper drawings of the island’s landscape, inspired by the time Cadu spent at an artist’s residency at Plymouth University, USA, and Ás de espadas [flotilha] (Ace of Spades [fleet]), intricately crafted laser-cut aeroplanes from a deck of playing cards.
Also part of the exhibition is Windcompass, a body of work which comprises of a series of digital images and video that resulted from the artist’s involvement with The Weather Exchange project – a global exchange of weather data that is transformed into artworks. The project was initiated as a collaborative effort between Cadu and British artist Tim Knowles.
According to Fernando Cocchiarale, the curator of the show: “Cadu’s work is representative of poetics that are above all concerned with the creation of technical devices intended for sensoriality and the spirit.”
Cadu was born in São Paulo but now lives and practices in Rio de Janeiro, where he also teaches at the PUC-Rio and the Parque Lage Visual Arts School. He has an extensive experience of working internationally and has won several awards.
The exhibition is intriguing and must not be missed by those who are looking to experience cutting edge Brazilian contemporary art. The show is open from August 17th to October 2nd at the Gallery Laura Alvim, Avenida Vieira Souto 176, Ipanema. Gallery Timings: Tuesday to Sunday, 1PM to 9PM.