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03/09 - 03/10 2020

Mendes Wood DM is proud to present the first solo exhibition in Belgium of Brazilian-born, Brussels-based artist Fernando Marques Penteado. Meet me at the finger buffet draws its name from a narrative device, imagined by the artist, that underpins the entire exhibition and weaves a rich web of interconnections and relationships between the various fictional characters that appear in the show. Theatrical in its conception, the exhibition unfolds like a novella or a play in which the narrative arc, and the characters contained in it, invite the viewer to enter into the artist’s world and interact with it in the form of a game, which can be played at the gallery, during the exhibition visit.

The fictional story that underpins the show is as follows: a Belgian producer, Xavier, generously decides to invite his old friends for a Erasmus reunion in Brussels, where he lives. They all met in London almost two decades ago and formed intermittent relationships that Xavier wishes to reignite. Unable to plan the party on his own, Xavier invites a friend, Jean Claude, who works in PR and events and is himself part of the London Erasmus group, to make a pitch for this reunion. Jean Claude’s proposition includes everything from seating arrangements to the menu.  

In an artfully crafted meta-narrative moment, it becomes apparent that we, the audience, and Xavier, the fictional Belgian producer and protagonist of the exhibition, are both witnessing Jean Claude’s pitch for the first time, together. Marques Penteado’s artworks form the basis of Jean Claude’s event proposal, and are widely articulated as different kinds of embroideries and found objects – the artist’s preferred medium –, from portraits and character studies of the various guests who have already sent in their RSVPs to depictions of the various snacks and finger foods that will be served at the party.

This playful concept is used as a vehicle for Marques Penteado to address more profound ideas of identity construction and the passage of time – an analysis of how we craft our own personalities and histories, and how these change as we grow older. As the artist defines it, this exhibition is about the archeology of memory. The storyboards, which will be on display in the gallery and which act as character profiles for each of the confirmed guests so far, are perhaps the best expression of this concept. Each storyboard is composed of the kind of carefully curated paraphernalia, painstakingly gathered by the artist himself in market stalls around the world, that each one of us collects, carries and privately displays throughout life – little written notes, theater tickets, old photographs, bus passes, a handkerchief, a poem, a vinyl cover or a postcard, for example. To a psychologist, the type of effort required in piecing together these fragments, to form a clear vision of a person, is akin to what an archeologist would do to paint a picture of an entire civilization.

Another key concern for the artist, manifest in this show, is the idea of biographic timelines. Who exactly was Xavier when he was on his Erasmus trip in London almost twenty years ago? Who is he now and how has he changed? How will his relationships and affections for each of the guests evolve when he sees them all together again at his party? And how, in turn, will each of his guests feel? How will their various achievements compare to one another? How close are the life experiences of, say, a ski instructor, a magician, a geologist and a sushi chef? The reunion is a chance to evoke ghosts and highlight the dreams and utopias that we all share as we make our way through life.

Even if the exhibition has a well-rounded, specific narrative, it is not to be understood as a strictly circumscribed project by the artist, but rather as the development of ideas that Marques Penteado has been working on for several years, including some character in this story that have made previous appearances in other shows (such as in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, at Freedman Fitzpatrick, Los Angeles, in 2017). Further, the concept of the storyboard first appeared in the artist’s Three Novels solo exhibition at Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, in 2014.

The interactive part of this exhibition is voluntary, and any visitor who wants to play the game can do so while they walk through the show. The game involves six of the characters that have already confirmed their presence at Xavier’s party. Armed with a description of each character – their profession, their romantic life, their hopes and dreams – the viewer will have to match each character to their storyboard on display in the gallery. Those with the most points will win a hand-crafted prize. 

*This show runs in parallel to Fernando Marques Penteado's online exhibition Scarves & Bags (03/09 - 03/10 2020).Click here to visit the show.

Xavier’s story
When I woke up as Xavier I was alone in a modest house with a methodic mother, an introspective father, and no one else. Grandpa taught me how to handle needles and baits, and to mock perfidious beings and their cumulative ambitions. I loved him so much.  

My mother had her eyes on royals’ gossip, recipes and pop music. She used our kitchen as stage for her singer persona: required as public, I applauded her weekly new numbers. Meanwhile, my father would take me to long fishing days, both of us speechless.
But then I had to grow. I took courage blended with candor as sword and went into the world. Unexpectedly fate blessed us: we moved for a couple of years from the Hainaut in Belgium, to Kwango in Congo. In there the air was fresh and bodies were not indoctrinated.
Back to Belgium. To Brussels. To learn. To share. To fall in love. My mind and spirit were impregnated of sun and songs that Africa cultivated thoroughly, gingerly, tenderly. I remained loyal to that provisional education. I did my first alliances. De volta à Bélgica.
The struggle to be sincere, in or out male to male relationships, will be crowned the force you have to crash masks. The quicker you alleviate your bowels of fears and specters, the closest you will get to your rose gardens. 
I became a producer and thanks to my Erasmus friend Eduardo Jobim I visited Brazil. A body in street carnival merge innocent, inattentive and ends be swallowed by infinite, fulgurant renaissances in a go. I presented my clients Brazilian rappers and shows were confirmed.
Lusophone African rappers are now scheduled. That gave me the honor to visit countries powered by sincere questions and social love in their right proportions. Here at Sablon, I am about to select, out a large menu, snacks for a finger buffet I will offer to dear old friends. 
Belgian from Charleroi with a mother from Capri and a Sicilian father, Salvatore lost his dad at a very early age and worked hard to help to support the household. Today he wholesales Italian products throughout Belgium, and he is very proud to have recently opened a restaurant together with his wife as a chef. He is a father of three intense boys, a beloved one being mute and deaf and who teaches them all what joy is.   
Belgian from Ostende, Marc was, since his boyhood, very close to fishermen and their trade. Timid and introverted, Marc found peace when he found Buddhism and meditative practices. He lived for a couple of years on remote islands in Japan to learn local fishing practices and their cuisine. He then started to practice Shintoism. Marc moved back to Ostende, where he works as a sushi man in a restaurant specialized in tempuras and tekkamaki.  
Scottish from Corgarff within Cairngorms National Park, Niall left the UK to be closer to to the Alps, where he skis and ends up as a ski instructor. During the last years he had to become a trekker since world’s climate change rarified snow and his ski school was forced to close. Unemployed he presently works for a bike rental shop, responsible for the walking routes in their catalog. He is married to Joanna and they are awaiting their first baby girl.   
Born in Long Island, John studied drama in New York. He always lived close to the sea and earned his living working for fishing equipment shops, working with ropes, hooks and lures. He inherited from a close bachelor actor, an invaluable old set of magic tricks and a wardrobe that he diligently explored. As he had a late start in the profession, John now struggles to exhibit his one man show “Astor” in cabarets and start up theaters in Vegas or Fresno.   
Belgian from Charleroi out of one of the Italian families that came to work in the coal mines after WW II. Enrico had a serene temperament and an outstanding facility with languages and accents which allowed him to act in both French, Canadian and Italian productions alike, predominantly casted for supporting roles due to his skinny body. Instead, his sexy voice and caramel eyes opened up doors and beds for him: Enrico holds desire as a plural principle and is not looking for a stable relationship.    
Belgian from Louvain, François became a renowned academic after having spent many years based in remote and isolated field work sites, circumstances which stuck him with a reputation of being a very antisocial, snobbish person. His research was always comprised of excellence and social benefit, so it would be right to say the public perception he receives is due to his condition of a non-diagnosed bipolar person. He married his assistant Juliette and they currently live in Maine, USA, with a bunch of dogs.   
Born in Brussels from a family of Austrian Jews that flew the Nazis, Serge recalls vividly his mother leaving the house never to come back again. The child was three, the young couple’s only son, so they moved in with the grandparents where he had invertebrate animals as his main emotional resource. Serge followed his family lineage and became apsychoanalyst, just after calibrating his charms towards women, though it is said he is frigid in relationships. Married to a young Mexican anthropologist, the couple live and work in London.   
French from Sarlat-la-Canedá, Benoit was trained in cinema and in journalism. He abdicated investigative journalism after the hatred and violence he was exposed to and covered in Algeria. In the cinema industry, art direction encouraged his skills as a bric-a-brac scavenger, and he could also make use of his associative, cooperative personality, true to his Sagittarius star sign. He had very long relationships with partners of both sexes, with whom he had living rooms and bedrooms to either sort out or fight for.   
Son of Brazilian diplomats, Eduardo travelled and was taught in different continents. He was always interested in ceramics, from Rococo porcelain to more robust earthenware. He pursued archeological ceramics as a masters degree, and his most intimate pleasure is to be around Grecian abandoned temples and amphitheaters. He lives in Sintra, Portugal, and teaches terracotta glazed pottery and tiles design at Caldas da Rainha Art School. He plays poor guitar and it is said that, so far, he has been extremely ill-fated in love.    
Belgian from Anderlecht from a working-class family, Jean Claude providentially studied at La Cambre thanks to a devoted godfather. Friend of Xavier and partner in the PR company, Calypso, he was asked to design the Erasmus reunion party for his friend. A purist in his own design research, Jean Claude lives on his own, a reputed hedonist with an irrevocable vice for extravagant cuisine and rare wines. He has an open gay life rooted in a witty spirit, permanent good humor and a beautiful smile.    

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