High above the city of São Paulo is the gallery Boatos Fine Arts. Housed in a converted apartment on the 12th floor of an 15 floor tower block, the space has polished parquet floors and is pleasingly rough around the edges which creates a newly established feel. The luminescence of the main gallery space is fueled by a bank of windows filling the room with South American sunlight and providing breathtaking views of the mega-city skyline.
Here quietly sits Daniel Albequerque’s exhibition ‘Oral’, an installation comprising a series of square and triangular knitted wall hangings and a set of floor based and ceiling hung re-bar & plaster sculptures. The white skeletal sculptures create weird apertures through which other artworks and the exhibition layout can viewed. One sequence of sculptural works, when taken from a distance, creates a composite face; writing a cartoonish image into the architectural space of the gallery.
The surface of the sculptures are touched here and there with subtle thumbprints of coloured plaster, highlighting their current ossified state. These pastel markers are indexical nods to both materiality and process, and offer a sense of narrative; perhaps tidemarks of where tendon and flesh once was.
Whilst the sculptures bring to mind a calcified skeleton — literally the bare bones of a situation — the woven wall hangings provide contrast with their material generosity. The tactility reminding one of friendship, love: offered warmth and comfort through the sharing of a blanket and body.
In places, colored acrylic paint has been applied directly to the hangings in simple stripes and lines, causing the woolen thread to clog and congeal. Here is a moment of interrupted metamorphosis, when material is transformed into neither woven tapestry nor painting. In this undefined state, where material and process fail, memory steps to try and anchor the works with personal narratives.
Painted directly onto the gallery wall behind one of the wall hangings is a blue rectangle which is rendered shimmering and gossamer behind the loose knitted stitches. This conjures a moment when we can imagine a secret passed from one lover to another.
In the development of his language Albuquerque wears his art historical references lightly; Giacometti here Rauschenberg there, a smattering of Guston. Poised, powerful, the works feel as if they hold personal secrets which, if you gain their trust, could be divulged.
The difficultly lies in the view out of the window: how does one compete with a city as visually tangled as Sao Paulo? Albuquerque’s choice is to invoke an inner narrative through material and process. His work is poetic and emotionally generous if you’re wiling to invest in the quiet spaces between.
Jonathan Murphy 2017