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natura naturans
Natura naturans
Group show ny
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Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present Natura Naturans, an exhibition which explores the dynamic interplay between nature and creative agency.  The diverse group of artists whose work is gathered here, investigate nature beyond a fixed subject or finite object, but also as a sort of collaborator, a creative force that is continuously self-generating, evolving and growing.

Natura Naturans takes the philosopher Spinoza’s concept of nature- that which nurtures or generates itself- as the title and point of departure for the exhibition. The notion of artist and nature as partners in creation is characteristic of Kishio Suga’s (b. 1944) practice. Oftentimes bending his contribution to underscore a naturally occurring design, Suga seeks to illustrate the inherent beauty of the elements he chooses, rather than build an illusion or make them anew. His sculpture, Collision of Accumulated Progression (2009), affixes cubes of wood to a branch following what could be a natural progression while juxtaposing the natural and processed states of wood.

Felipe Meres’ (b. 1988) Tentaculata (2018) consists of an inkjet-printed silk fabric that is cast with silicone rubber and a wheat grass supplement manufactured to enhance the human body. While it is activated by its allusions to nature, with its organic shape, fluidity and hues of chlorophyll - the work highlights its own artificiality. Implying a potentially limitless biological reaction it is also contained, as if in a petri dish, by the artist’s hand.

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané (b. 1977) challenges the way our knowledge of nature is mediated by technologies and cultural concepts, such as time. In Still Untitled (2015), leaves, which appear to be falling or floating, are suspended in time and gravity. Submerged in glass, the leaves form a loop-hole where the finite concept of time and the infinite quality of Spinoza’s natura naturans coexist.

Solange Pessoa’s (b. 1961) visual language captures a pre-historic, almost totemic quality, dissolving the boundary between the artist’s action and nature’s design. Her soapstone Caveiras [skulls] (2016) could be naturally occurring fossils of Jurassic dimension while her Untitled (2005), a bronze sculpture surrounded by dried and wilting foliage, exists in a constant cycle of blossom and decay, evolution and extinction.   Using a variety of organic materials, always in their raw state, Paloma Bosquê’s (b. 1982) works look as though they could belong to another era. Made of wool, rosin and bee’s wax, the minimalism of Ente-ninho #2 [Nest-being] (2017-2018) is imbued with a delicacy that demands a careful attention, as the hanging eggs seem to indicate the possibility of an impending metamorphosis or hatching. 

Sonia Gomes’ (b. 1948) practice prioritizes memory, often working with fabrics that have had past lives as human possessions. Her painting Vivo Nela [I Live in Her] (2018) gesturally restores the leaves on a piece of found wood, remembering the tree. Adriano Costa (b. 1975) also uses found objects, but disregards their original function to playfully reimagine them, in this case a piece of broken chair becomes Elephante [Elephant] (2018).

The horizons of Lucas Arruda (b. 1983) and Lorenzato (b.1900- d.1995) elaborate on formal landscape painting to propel the viewer beyond traditional pictorial representation toward the sensory experience of texture and vibrating light. Their frenzied surfaces, which make light almost palpable, simultaneously activate and blur their fields or forests so the representation, much like a horizon, recedes as you approach it. This re-imagination of the sensory experience of landscape is further explored in a video by Julien Bismuth, BankShot (2017), which blasts then mutes the sound of a riverbank, illustrating the tangible aural force of the jungle.

Alvaro Barrington’s (b. 1983) paintings such as Leaves (Montreal Fall) (2018), use a specific location as the visual and emotional impetus for the work, amalgamating the sentiment and geography of a given memory into an integrated, biomorphic whole. Barrington proposes an environment where the human experience and natural experience are intertwined in the same inseparable and limitless ecosystem. He achieves this literally as the painted leaves border on sculpture, filling the large gaps in the burlap open-weave canvas, as a fil rouge escapes the boundaries of the canvas to root itself in the gallery space.

Criticizing the hierarchy of classification and commodification within the natural world, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa’s (b. 1978) colossus plant-like sculpture, Untitled (2017), contains a strong political dimension. In its evasion of classification, it challenges the 18th century botanist Carl Linnaeus’ codification of the natural world; Linnaeus’ creation of modern systems of taxonomy contributed to later theories of ethnic superiority.

This exhibition explores the notion of a natural system as a continuously growing ecosystem, where humans are not within or without, but rather woven into the same ecological fabric constantly affecting its growth as it constantly affects ours. Illustrating this infinite, limitless creative force becomes akin to collaboration, as opposed to adoption or appropriation, especially when we are part of the very matrix of nature that we are trying to represent.

Natura Naturans features work by Lucas Arruda, Alvaro Barrington, Julien Bismuth, Paloma Bosquê, Adriano Costa, Sonia Gomes, Lorenzato, Felipe Meres, Solange Pessoa, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané and Kishio Suga. 

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