Blum & Poe Broadcasts in collaboration with Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by Sonia Gomes. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and follows the announcement of her representation. In 2021, Blum & Poe Los Angeles will host the artist's first solo presentation in the US.
Accessible on both galleries' online platforms, the exhibition will bring together Gomes's most recent series of sculptures and drawings under the overarching theme of freedom and limits—a concept in reference both to our times and to the artist’s own gesture.
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Over the years Sonia Gomes has developed her artistic language to reveal the stories, the hidden meanings, and the social significance of the fabrics that she uses. To her, this language conjures the ultimate freedom—the freedom to engage in the destruction and reconstruction of objects and fabrics. This creative process has manifested a new series of sixteen works made with stones and destroyed birdcages.
Sculptures from this series begin with a broken birdcage and wrapped fabric, with a pendant stone that hangs in each cage—a stark counter-image to the delicacy of the imprisoned bird. These poetic crossings are the guiding threads that take us through the work of an artist whose persistent quest has been to emancipate her art from any formal rule or regulation. Her compositions stem from a spontaneous and casual practice of deconstructing and re-assembling everyday objects.
My work is life, it is life's movement. Since the beginning, I looked for movement and possibilities, but also memory. We can't live without those things.
— Sonia Gomes
Expressionistic organic forms emerge, which invariably suggest pulsating life, made from the sewing together of different experiences and memories. Gomes designs meticulous contortions with fabric, each seam or fold stemming from vernacular procedures aimed at transcending the boundaries of the medium, combining the artist’s informal and self-taught background with her erudite gaze and gesture.
Drawing its title from the Maya Angelou poem “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” this series of works revealed itself to be an intense process for Gomes, who says "the act of breaking these cages is for me an exercise of freedom using gesture.” As the textiles are woven together, so are the histories that they carry with them. Biographically charged materializations thread their way across and around each other in a tactile and organic way, as they experiment with new and vibrant manners of existing.
When we place her cage works besides others that refer to notions of shelter, like Colmeia, Casulo, Banco and Cadeira, another formal and existential aspect of Gomes’s work becomes palpable: the assemblage of differences. There is no hierarchy of materials in her poetics; any fabric, from the most to the least expensive, in the best or very worst state of conservation, will be considered according to a chain of relationships place her cage works besides others that refer to that support it.
— Excerpt by curator Raphael Fonseca from Sonia Gomes's catalogue, A vida renasce / Ainda me levanto (São Paulo: MASP/MAC Niterói, 2018)
The intuitive nature of Gomes's process is a product of the artist's early relationship with the academic institutions that she attended. While at one of the free courses at the Escola Guignard in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Gomes began to think she would never be an artist because she could not replicate the traditional drawing technique that was expected of her. However, when the teacher instructed her to sit in a separate room and explore new techniques for working on paper, free from any formal academic rules, everything changed. Gomes's discovery of drawing was one of her first experiences as an artist, not because she was learning a particular technique, but because she had begun to operate in absolute freedom.
I was delighted with drawings of internal organs of the human body that I found in science and biology books. The tissues of the body, the vertebrae, the cartilages and muscles, lost me for hours in the colors and textures, do you know that this reflects my work a lot and nobody has said it? It’s a lot about my interior, about a hidden part of the body, the part that we do not see, my work has a lot of this, a lot of that image, I think my relationship with aesthetics also came first from this imagery.
— Sonia Gomes
To notice the relationship that Gomes has with drawing is to take the first step towards understanding her work. Often throughout the history of art, drawing has been preparation for painting—but for Gomes, her drawing is an end unto itself. In each piece she breathes depth and volume into lines and shapes by applying fabric on paper to a delicate and sculptural effect.