Made out of used fabrics and ordinary—usually discarded—materials, Sonia Gomes' colourful sculptures exude a sense of corporeality. Drawing from her lived experiences as an Afro-Brazilian person, and from the history of the African diaspora in Brazil, Gomes explores the entangled relationship between labour and commerce, and the colonial past and present.Read More
Sonia Gomes constructs her sculptures from second-hand materials. She began this practice as a child in the Brazilian city of Caetanópolis, which used to be a centre for textile production, where she would incorporate leftover fabric into jewellery. In the wall-hanging Lágrima (Tear) (2014), Gomes created a tear-shaped cluster of vividly patterned fabrics against a blue tablecloth belonging to a friend's family. Gomes also often references memories of her childhood—the rituals of her maternal grandmother, who was a shaman, and her paternal family's Catholic customs—and Brazilian dance in her work.
Whether suspended from the ceiling, hung on the wall, or presented on the floor, Sonia Gomes' sculptures convey a tension between lightness, fragility, and hardness. This is especially evident in the 'Raiz' series (2018), in which scraps of fabric, netting, and ropes are bound to pieces of driftwood. The series' Picaré sculpture possibly evokes a human figure with outstretched limbs, while Correnteza juxtaposes rounded fabric forms with the lines of the wood.
The corporeal presence implicit in many of Sonia Gomes' works is exemplified in Lona (2010): a woven wall sculpture that Hyperallergic's Cleo Abramian described as resembling a 'deflated lung'. Another frequent motif is the birdcage, which appears to harness the wood in Aninhado (2019). The birdcage serves as a potent symbol of freedom and the struggles to obtain it, and references the work of American poet and activist Maya Angelou. Still I rise, Sonia Gomes' major solo exhibition at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in 2018, takes its title from Angelou's famous 1978 poem.
Sonia Gomes / Marina Perez Simão, Pace Gallery, New York (2020); Sonia Gomes, Mendes Wood DM, Brussels (2019); A Vida Renasce, Sempre, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2018); A.R. Penck and Sonia Gomes, Hic Svnt Dracones, New York (2017); O Ritmo da Linha, Espaço Cultural do Fórum Lafayette, Brazil (2011).
Mecarõ. Amazonia in the Petitgas Collection, Montpellier Contemporain, France (2020); Unconscious Landscape: Works from the Ursula Hauser Collection, Hauser & Wirth Somerset (2019); Experimenting with Materiality, Lévy Gorvy, Zürich (2019); O Triângulo Atlântico, 11a Bienal de Artes Visuais do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2018); Everyday Poetics, Seattle Art Museum (2017); Revival, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2017); All the World's Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020
Ocula Art Advisory's Rory Mitchell spotlights Sonia Gomes's alchemical approach to sculpture that elicits 'an ancient of sacred spirit from the past'.
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