Over the summer, Brazilian artist Sonia Gomez worked for three different exhibitions about new works in various stages of completion.
A presentation that opened in August at Mendes Wood DM in Sao Paulo almost ended with a series of installations referring to earlier birdcage sculptures in which lighting fixtures acted as an “intervention.”
She also experimented with sculptural wall art early on, which will form the basis of a presentation at the Pace Gallery in New York next spring. But during a conversation on Zoom last July, their two-story studio in Sao Paulo was demolished to pieces under construction for the show that opened this week at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles.
Some 20 to 30 works are on display in the gallery, including the centerpiece.
When the Sun Rises Blue, a striking sculpture made of colorful textiles – including curtains and netting – on a white embroidered cloth called lace renascença, one of which assistants have brought from his hometown in northeastern Brazil.
Like all of her work, these new pieces draw on the massive list of fabrics Gomez has donated, from her mother’s wedding gown and grandmother’s towels to her son’s T-shirts to household items like tablecloths and bedsheets. So many materials used in When the Sun Rises Blue has been in their collection for nearly 20 years, and each has its own unique story, memories, and stories to tell.
“There’s a connection between time and reflection — all the material I’m working on is an exercise in exploring the soul of these objects,” Gomez says. “It’s closely related to other people’s stories.” Poetry had a significant impact on Gomez’s practice, with the title of her work shaping what she called “poetic language” over the years. “My work is poetic, intuitive,” she said. “I feel like it’s coming from a mysterious place inside of me.”
Gomez is reading a particular poem by Ricardo Alexio, a writer from the state of Minas Gerais.
Another essential text for her is the 1998 essay The Coat of Marx by literary theorist Peter Stallybrass, especially the section dealing with the memory of the clothes and clothing of the deceased. “Clothes come to me when people don’t want to get rid of an item but want a new destiny,” she said. “I changed them, and they took a new form. This is done by creating the work and the respect I have for the stories that are told to me that manifest themselves in this subject.”
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