TRUTH OF THE MATTER Exhibition
President’s Gallery at JOHN JAY COLLEGE
City University of New York (CUNY)
Curator: Cyriaco Lopes
TRUTH OF THE MATTER
Paint, Concept, Memory.
Since the early 20th century, when Duchamp argued for a less ‘retinal’
art there has been a false dichotomy between conceptualism and
pure visual expression (as if any of the two, in isolation, were possible).
Painting, which is paradigmatic of Western visuality, was a particular
target in the 1970s, suffering then and since a number of announced
deaths. It was only from the 1990s and on that the discussion on the
validity of a medium became obsolete. In the pluralistic environment
of postmodernism there is not a unique linear path to be followed,
which would accept only one idea at a time. That earlier Modernist
construction mirrored classical scientific research where there were
exclusive and consecutive contributions, i.e. either the sun or earth
could be at the center of the then known celestial bodies. Art now
seems to rely more on the assumption of synchronic developments
that are not mutually exclusive, and in which each artwork needs to
be analyzed in contextual, not universal terms. Despite the fact that
extreme relativism brings its own theoretical difficulties, this preamble
helps to situate the works in this exhibition as they conciliate their
reliance on materiality, particularly paint, and the conceptual issues
that ground them.
Truth of the Matter reunites three artists that work on a variety of
media, including painting. What is particular and interesting about
these works is that their very materiality is infused and indissociable
from its concept. Their very flesh is their soul. In each case the chosen
materials are charged with meaning. They are not merely a choice
but rather the result of an extensive process, which is present as a
parallel narrative that imbues the images within a larger context.
These larger narratives, which haunt but are not visible, as well as the
indexicality of the images, are appropriate as this collection of works
share a common interest: memory. The pieces are vehicles for
memory, but also meditations on it. All three address entropy with
melancholy, as the sense of loss is how memory presents itself here.
The family photographs that loose meaning so fast, the ecological
catastrophe that changes a way of life, the implosion of language
into meaningless components. The three artists seem to tentatively
hold fragile fluxes that trickle down anyway, inexorably, unjustly.
Luiz Cavalheiros uses bleach to dissolve his personal photographs
(Imagens Relembradas, 1999-ongoing). He then uses the resulting
liquid (the photo dyes dissolved in bleach) as a type of watercolor
with which he paints versions of the erased photographs from
Lisa Moren collected water from the Gulf of Mexico at the time of the
BP spill, with which she then created pigment for her marbleized paper
(the range of browns and ochre are an indictment in themselves).
Helena Trindade accumulates layers of paint by dripping it through
columns of letter stencils (which convey the first syllabi spoken by her
son), using paint in a three-dimensional way and alluding to the
opacity of language. Her billboards of blank billboards are again a
medium for communication that stops short of its function, pure
New York, 2012
JOHN JAY COLLEGE City University of New York (CUNY)