In João Loureiro’s practice, the play with scale and materials are one of the main axes with which the artist articulates a large part of his production, sometimes relating them to the exhibition’s context and place, other times creating a counterpoint to it. In the case of the exhibition at Sé gallery, these elements are also present. Upon entering the gallery, we come across an oversized table that seems to be covered with a towel, but as we approach we discover that it is actually a sculpture made of… styrofoam. When we go up to the second floor, we come across lamps in the shape of gigantic seashells, supported by chains, with a sticky black substance. Next to them, we see an architectural model, which refers to the main pavilion at the “Capuava” farm house (residence of the modernist artist and agitator Flavio de Carvalho). Inside of this model there is a small figure of a devil, cast in gold. On the wall there is a drawing portraying the interior of a cave, seen from its depths, with a strong organic resemblance and even hypnotic connotations.
Throughout his career Loureiro has employed different sculptural and graphic strategies, combined with an acidic and veiled humor, to develop a vocabulary of forms, materials and objects that seek to replicate a very particular reality, which at times seems to flirt with the childish gaze in the face of the commonalities of the everyday, and sometimes present strange and false beings, which seem to have come from a movie set or jumped out of an encyclopedia of curiosities or a cartoon. Thus, at first sight, the works of João Loureiro can evoke traits strongly marked by humor, reminding us of anecdotes or tales, of those we heard as children or that circulate as urban legends. His wide vocabulary plays with certain archetypes and references and we may find echoes of the pop world, the cartoons, the urban culture of big cities like São Paulo, of modernist environments, design and even the kitsch.
But this apparent humorous tone is a superficial layer, acting as a membrane that also attracts the viewers, to then drag them into another universe: one even deeper, in which clashes over existence seem to be taking shape. Imagination, the false, the allegory, the symbolic and the fantastic permeate his productions and always create an intricate labyrinth of references and associations for each proposition. This characteristic of Loureiro’s work seems to be used to question the very limit of an object’s existence in the world and how it can be codified, as at the same time it confronts us with what we can see, read, remember and identify, which is, it forces us to observe our own cultural repertoire.
I highlight the work “O diabo de ouro” (The Golden Devil, 2021), which does not have a stable shape, because to be transported it must be melted and transformed, by the hands of a goldsmith, into a fly. And upon reaching its destination, it must be transformed back into a devil (Fly and devil have exactly the same volume). This small-scale work, with a biting simplicity, could not be a better metaphor for the restless and changeable spirit of the silent alchemist that is João Loureiro.
“João Loureiro: Desacordados”
On view until June 6
Alameda Lorena, 1257, house 2, Jardim Paulista, São Paulo