A founder and former member of Cuba-based art collective Los Carpinteros (from 1991 to 2003), Arrechea exhibits a new project at the São Paulo venue, retracing the ideas that drove his work for the past four years, including large murals applied directly onto the gallery wall, drawings/watercolors, and sculptures. According to him, Refazer resumes dealing with the questions of maps and fragments, both of which are central to his inquiries.
Designed to come together as a big installation, the pieces in Refazer converse with one another, and they draw a parallel with the process of preparing the soil for cultivation. “My goal is to develop processes analogous to painting, sculpture and installation by keeping the surface of my work amenable to being transformed again, the same as with plowed lands,” says the artist, going on to say that this action repeats itself with each new sowing, and that is why he chose to install the artworks in superimposed fashion.
The show’s starting point will be a big mural mimicking a plowed field. The watercolors and objects will be set against it. Each of the elements overlying the mural will work as a novel statement, a new representation of the previous terrain, and therefore a new territory that ushers in a new possibility. “With that formula I could generate a map of endless variations, a circular method of understanding reality – one that subverts itself time and again, and where each art piece constitutes a statement that complements rather than denies the one that precedes it.”
Alexandre Arrechea’s oeuvre stands out for his use of visual metaphors for current societal issues like inequality, cultural segregation, and the controversial place of art in a globalized, media-centered society. Just like many of his contemporaries, he manipulates symbols and materials in an ambivalent way so spectators walk away from his work with no specific viewpoint. Today’s widespread surveillance systems and obsession over control were a major source of inspiration for the pieces the artist created from 2003 on. His research into the public-private relationship led to an output that deals with loss of privacy, frailty, memory, and the failure of control and power. Works such as The Garden of Mistrust (2003-2005) and Perpetual Free Entrance (2006) are to an extent concerned with issues of accessibility or approach as pertains to works of art.
His creation for the 2012 Havana Biennial was a steel house comprising eleven sections. Either the length of the walls or the separation between them would change on a daily basis, mirroring the ups and downs of the Dow Jones economic index. In 2013, he occupied Park Avenue, taking New York City by surprise with 10 large-scale sculptures that represented iconic local buildings including the Chrysler Building, Citicorp Center, and the Empire State Building. In 2015, for the latest edition of the Cuban Biennial, the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana housed O Mapa do Silêncio (The Map of Silence), a major showing of his videos, installations, paintings, and panels which affirmed his idea of silence: “there can be good or bad reasons for silence, and this exhibition strives to be a map of multiple silences.” Arrechea was named ‘best Cuban artist’ by Fundación Farber on the strength of this show.
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