Marcos Chaves-the artist whose 2014 show Academia-also featured from April to June this year at Parque Lage- launched Galeria Nara Roesler's Rio de Janeiro venue, presents brand new developments of his piece Eu só vendo a vista, shown at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in 2017.
According to Niterói Museum curators Pablo León de la Barra and Raphael Fonseca, the new Nara Roesler show is an appropriation of that site-specific work, which saw the artist cover the museum's windows that face Rio's most iconic view with black sticker tape, from which he cut out the sentence Eu só vendo a vista (which can translate as 'I only sell the sights' or 'I only sell for an upfront payment'). The landscape could be seen only through the gaps corresponding to each letter. The installation is based on a 1996 piece by the artist, which featured the same sentence on a Pão de Açúcar postcard. 'This new version of the artwork enhanced a layer of meaning in the sentence that was hitherto subliminal: the blocking of the sights, the blindfolding of the landscape. Thus, viewers can only see the landscape through the letter cutouts. Sort of like a peephole, a peep show,' says the artist.
For the Sendo dado exhibit, Marcos Chaves photographically appropriates his large installation from MAC-Niterói in three different narratives using each of the letters in the sentence Eu só vendo a vista. In one of the gallery's rooms, the letters are shown separately in large format photos over black walls. In another space, the show's eponymous piece sees the Rio-based artist pay tribute to Marcel Duchamp, the best-known appropriator in art history, as as Pablo León de La Barra and Raphael Fonseca, authors of the text, point out. In a composition of smaller photos, containing the same letters as his installation, Chaves writes Étant donnés (Sendo dado, or 'given that'), the title of the French artist's emblematic work, in which a naked woman's body can only be seen through two holes on a wooden door. 'This is, therefore, a proposed meeting of Chaves' installation and one of the most acclaimed visual art pieces of the 20th century, Étant donnés, presented to the public in 1969,' argue Léon de la Barra and Fonseca.
Capping off his experimentations with a third previously unseen piece, Chaves relies on a stereoscope and a circular slide disc - analog technologies contemporaneous with Étant donnés - to invite viewers to actively engage their bodies in order to read each of the letters in Só vendo (either 'I only sell' or 'Only by seeing'). 'Only by seeing (and reading) can one believe the power of images and words,' the curators note. In this piece, which addresses the French artist's work in a different way, there is no need to add 'a vista' to the sentence, since it's already there in the spaces of light within the letters. 'The saying só vendo once again pays homage to sight, such an essential sense to Chaves' research,' adds Pablo León de La Barra and Raphael Fonseca.
Marcos Chaves (b. 1961, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is based in Rio de Janeiro. Chaves began his artistic career in the early 1980's and as a conceptual artist Marcos Chaves' photographs, videos, assemblages, and large-scale installations transform neglected everyday experiences and materials into art objects. His parodical and light-hearted work uses humour to obscure a tragic and poetic sensibility. 'Humour opens paths,' he says. 'Sometimes you might laugh at something, but it may not be that funny. Humour might make us stop and think.' Chaves superimposes text over photos, documents his own artistic interventions in photographs and video, and installs pre-existing non-art objects in artistic contexts in a manner reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp. In Chaves' work Academia created an open air gym where characters from Rio de Janeiro could use the objects from the exhibition to exercise, this included cement, iron pipes, wood and rods. The title itself is a pun on the centrality of the samba and gyms in the everyday lives of Cariocas. Recent solo shows include: ARBOLABOR (Centro de Arte de la Caja de Burgos, Spain, 2015); Academia (Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 2014); Narciso (Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013); I only have eyes for you (Fundação Eva Klabin, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013); Pieces (Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil, 2011). He featured in the 1st and 5th editions of the Mercosul Biennial, in Porto Alegre (1997 and 2005), and the 25th Bienal de São Paulo (2002), all in Brazil; the 17th Cerveira Biennale, in Portugal (2013), and the 54th Venice Biennale, in Italy (2011), among others.
Press release courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.