Since opening in Naples in January 2018, Thomas Dane Gallery has aspired to reflect the dynamism of the city and to be a space for collaboration and exchange. This September, the gallery hosts São Paulo’s Mendes Wood DM for Terra Trema—a group show featuring six artists working in Brazil: Paloma Bosquê, Anna Bella Geiger, Sonia Gomes, Patricia Leite, Solange Pessoa, and Leticia Ramos. Given its unique position, Naples becomes a fitting backdrop for the material richness of these artists—whose work includes painting, photography, sculpture, and film. By displacing a language of modernity in favour of sensorial practice, the legacy of Brazilian art is revisited in the framework of Naples.
The title of the exhibition refers to La Terra Trema—Luchino Visconti’s 1948 film loosely adapted from Giovanni Verga’s novel I Malavoglia (1881). Depicting a family of fishermen who live and work in Aci Trezza, Sicily, the film portrays the domestic struggles of social and economic mobility.
Bringing together an intergenerational selection of artists, Terra Trema spans a period from 1968 to 2019, with Bosquê and Leite exhibiting new work. Poetic processes of excavation and accretion—of personal and universal histories—meet an emphasis on materiality, whether geographic, photographic, or pictorial. The exhibition has been arranged in order to enhance experiential viewership, drawing attention to the works’ originality and connections.
Geiger scrutinises cartographic representation and its implicit structural control in works that inevitably reinforce the value of marginal viewpoints. Her films gesture toward transgression, Mapas Elementares No.3 (1976) for instance, becomes a visual poem which alludes to the conditions and myths attributed to cultures of Latin America. Pessoa’s display of soapstone sculptures (2013–2017), resemble large washed-up relics or archaeological artefacts. Her monochromatic oil on canvas works of amphibious, primordial, and anthropomorphic creatures appear as graphic compositions that preserve the formal qualities of her sculptures.
While Pessoa’s works recall early origins and the prehistoric life that populated such eras, Gomes’ precarious textile sculptures blend biographical and historical memory with intuitive materialisation. The singular sculptures of Bosquê focus on material evolution and ephemerality, using diverse materials such as: brass, felt, bronze, coal, gum rosin, beeswax, beef casing, craft paper, and coffee sieves. Bosquê’s incorporation of craft and handwork indexes her sculpture’s relation to the body, while the organic material and geometric forms bridge features of the Brazilian Neo-concrete movement with post-minimalist sensibilities.
Ramos and Leite remain attentive to their medium’s respective materiality and historical legacy. For Ramos, principles of photography and its base material elements—light and paper—are used to experiment with methodology. Typically for Ramos, this involves utilising techniques appropriate for documentary photography and manipulating their application for more spectral outcomes. Her film, Não é difícil para um investigador da natureza simular os fenômenos (2018), documents a sequence of eruption simulations. In Leite’s paintings, which include new works on wood made specifically for the exhibition, her minimalist bucolic vignettes utilise a glancing perspective, rendering fleeting, almost naïve, visions from travels or videos; these sources externalise intimate experiences and tactile sensations.
The various sensibilities brought by the artists on show gives way to a compelling display. Terra Trema sheds light over the current production of art in Brazil while complicating any pre-conceptions one might have about what charactersises ‘Brazilian art’.
Paloma Bosquê (Garça, 1982) lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. Her most recent solo exhibitions include O Oco e a Emenda, Pavilhão Branco, Museu da Cidade, Lisbon (2017); Field, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (2016); O Incômodo, Pivô, São Paulo (2015). Additionally, her work has been included in institutional group exhibitions such as the Brasile. Il coltello nella carne, Pac - Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2018); Bienal de Coimbra, Coimbra (2017); Mycorial Theatre, Pivô, São Paulo (2016); Projeto Piauí, Pivô, São Paulo (2016); Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist, The Jewish Museum, New York (2016); United States of Latin America, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit (2015).
Anna Bella Geiger (Rio de Janeiro, 1933) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. Her most recent solo exhibitions include Anna Bella Geiger: Here is The Center, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York (2018); Gavetas de Memórias, Caixa Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo (2018); Geografía Física y Humana, MUNTREF, Buenos Aires (2018), La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2017), Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2016). Her work has been included in institutional group exhibitions such as Radical Women, Latin American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, New York (2018); América Latina 1960–2013, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2013); Vidéo Vintage, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012); Modern Women Single Channel 5 Artists, MoMA PS1, New York (2011); Adding it up: Acquisitons 70–95, MoMA, New York (1995); 39th Venice Biennale, Venice (1980); PROSPECTIVA 74, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo, São Paulo (1974); São Paulo Biennials, São Paulo (1961–1967).
Sonia Gomes (Caetanópolis, 1948) lives and works in São Paulo. In 2018, the artist had her first major monographic institutional exhibitions in Brazil, at MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo and at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói. In addition, her work has been included in institutional group exhibitions such as the 56ª Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2015); Entangled, Turner Contemporary, Margate, England (2017); Revival, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, USA (2017); Art & Textiles–Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2013); Out of Fashion. Textile in International Contemporary Art, Kunsten—Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark (2013).
Patricia Leite (Belo Horizonte, 1955) lives and works in Belo Horizonte. Her works has been included in institutional group exhibitions such as Mínimo, múltiplo, comum, Estação Pinacoteca, São Paulo (2018); Aprendendo Com Dorival Caymmi—Civilização Praieira, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2016); The Circus as a Parallel Universe, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2013); Outra Praia, Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte (2005).
Solange Pessoa (Ferros, 1961), lives and works in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Her selected solo exhibitions include Solange Pessoa, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2017); Solange Pessoa, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (2016); Metaflor-Metaflora, Museu Mineiro, Belo Horizonte (2013); Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte (2008); Museu da Inconfidência, Ouro Preto (2000); Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte (1995); and Centro Cultural São Paulo, (1992). Pessoa received a grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation (1996/1997), and has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Brazil and abroad including New Shamans (2016), High Anxiety (2016), and No Man’s Land: Women Artists (2015), Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA; Arte e Patrimônio, Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro (2014); Mostra do Redescobrimento, CAPS Musée d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France (2001); and Heranças Contemporâneas (1999), Encontros e Tendências (1993), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo.
Letícia Ramos (Santo Antônio da Patrulha, 1976) lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil. Selected solo exhibitions include: HISTÓRIA UNIVERSAL DOS TERREMOTOS, Itinerarios XXIII, Fundación Botín, Santander (2017); VOSTOK–Um prólogo, Pivô, São Paulo (2013); Bitácora, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo (2012); Escafandro, La Bande Video, Quebéc (2011); ERBF–Estação Radiobase Fotográfica, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, (2009/2010). Her work has been included in institutional group exhibitions such as: Biennale Jogja XII, Jogja (2017); Hercule Florence: Le nouveau Robinson, Nouveau Musée National Monaco, Villa Paloma (2017); 18º Festival de Arte Contemporânea Sesc Videobrasil–Panoramas do Sul, Sesc Pompéia, São Paulo (2013); Expo Projeção 1973–2013, Sesc Pinheiros, São Paulo (2013); Se o clima for favorável / Wheather permitting... 9ª Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013); Programa de Fotografia, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo (2012); Trilhas do Desejo, Rumos Artes Visuais, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo (2009).
Press release courtesy Thomas Dane Gallery.