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First Stone

28/02 2015 – 28/03 2015

Mendes Wood DM has the pleasure of presenting Primeira Pedra [First Stone], the second solo show of Brazilian artist Matheus Rocha Pitta to be held at the gallery. The sculpture for which the exhibition is named consists of small concrete cubes produced in series. Sized perfectly to fit in a human hand and placed on the floor of the gallery atop old newspapers, the cubes are available to the public in exchange for a different rock or stone, rather than money: to get one, visitors have to leave the gallery and bring back the first stone they find. As such, the exhibition establishes a connection between the gallery and the city through the simple gesture of transporting a rock. This experiment critically combines the idea of neo-concrete participation with Robert Smithson’s non-site category (by the end of the exhibition, the series of cubes will be converted into a heterogeneous collection of gathered stones).

This idea of connection is eloquently reaffirmed through the series of slabs entitled O Acordo [The Agreement]: a collection of clipped newspaper photos, depicting people enacting accords with such gestures as handshakes, embraces and kisses. Rocha Pitta employs the curious technique of covering the concrete with newspaper, a hybrid of a mold and collage. It is based on a cheap and ordinary way to construct concrete tombs. To prevent the concrete from getting stuck to the bottom of the mold, newspaper is used to insulate it, and thus inevitably incorporated into the internal part of the slab. The popular somber joke is that the dead will have something to read.

In his studies, Rocha Pitta was struck by the ancient Greek tombstones featuring dexiosis*, which depict the departed shaking hands with a divinity in exchange for protection for the living and for life after death. The artist updates this feature in the series of slabs presented at Mendes Wood DM, transforming the gallery into a kind of shelter for the paradoxical nature of the accord as an affirmation of change.

Through a variety of projects, Matheus Rocha Pitta (Tiradentes, 1980), embraces interests and strategies that allow him to identify a pointed critique of the mechanisms of exchange that reign over ordinary life through a body of work that deepens with each new piece. In 2014, the artist participated in the Taipei Biennial and the group exhibition Blind Field at Kunst IM Tunnel in Dusseldorf. In 2013, he held the solo show Acordo [The Agreement], Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Italy. He also won first prize in the 1st Itamaraty Contemporary Art Award. In the last two years, he realized solo exhibitions at Pivô in São Paulo, at Paço Imperial in Rio de Janeiro and at Fondazione Volume! in Rome.

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