Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (World English Bible Version)
Rarely would I quote from the Good Book but at the latest show of Portuguese born and based artist, Paulo Brighenti, at Rooster Gallery last February 13th that the particular thought came to mind. Religious reference aside, the show’s title is Pó, which means nothing more than dust in Portuguese. It is apparent that the detritus became a statement and a parallel symbolism for the treatment of mortality and the facets of death that is a deep reservoir for artists to draw upon.
On an entire wall of the main floor gallery that Brighenti took two days to render in graphite, a massive landscape sketch and at a distant view revealed to be a skull. All the shavings from the excess graphite accumulated on the floor were left to illustrate the idea of dust. It was quite a statement to look at actual remnants to be attuned to the process of the artist. Layering seemed to be the order of which Brighenti builds upon his work. There are sketches of skulls and a carapace of a turtle to further expound on the subject of mortality. These hallowed out items are mere vessels but what lingers on is the soul that can live forever. It is all at once haunting and beautiful to behold then ponder upon.
At the bottom gallery were more of the still life paintings and a single sculpture of a tower composed of bones (animal of course according to the artist). The gallery macabre transcends any shade of horrific vestiges as the earthy colors managed to generate warmth rather than cold death. In the bitter stretch of winter outside that these works gave a pulse of life even though the subject of death prevailed. Brighenti had conjured up an enlightened treatise of facing one’s own mortality.
There are things best left unsaid and the work laid bare afforded you that means of introspection about the subject. We are reminded that we’re human and the certainty is that our fleshly realm must come to an end. Creating art is a conduit for one’s soul to linger on. The mere dust of what we are can mean a great whole collectively. Our thoughts, hopes and dreams – the abstract matter lives on and Brighenti made a definite case of it with his latest works, which shall live on endlessly long after we’re all a pile of bones.
To view our interview with the artist, please click below:
Paulo Brighenti: Pó / On View: February 13 – March 16, 2014
Gallery Schedule: Wed – Sun (12 to 7 pm) & Mon / Tue by appt.
Rooster Gallery. 190 Orchard Street. NYC, NY 100002
Art Review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Selected Art Images from Rooster Gallery courtesy of the artist
Photography and Video by: Max Noy Photo