This portfolio of imaginary portraits by Alexandre da Cunha is composed from household items: fruit, vegetables, appliances, spices, and kitchen and cleaning utensils. They were created whilst working from home every day from April through to June 2020 and shared via Instagram. The composition of each face is undertaken almost as form of daily exercise, part of a new routine or as a marker of the passing of time, a line drawn on the calendar. Reviewing his experience of a familiar domestic environment and encountering an intensification of his surroundings’ potential, Faces was born out of the close examination of the familiar as possibility and spontaneity within limited space and means. Domesticity, habitual labour and household chores are reimagined as a space for reflection and expression. In their subtle, characterful and expedient arrangement, these faces demonstrate that a quiet calendar is never an indicator of time lost.
In the combination of domestic objects and fresh produce, da Cunha’s Faces are representations which rely on what is close at hand, their readiness of availability suggesting each arrangement is a result of chance. The arrangements also echo art historical precedents of still life and vanitas painting and particularly with Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) in whose work human form is reassembled in nature’s harvest, both artists contemplating the act of image-making as well as questioning the conventional resources which form such representation. In their prevalence of found objects and as products of quick arrangement Faces emblematises the deconstructive and restorative logic that colours da Cunha’s imagination.
- click to enlarge
a portfolio of 10 c-type photographs
25.4 x 20.4 cm., 10 x 8 1/8 in. (each image)
edition of 40 + 10 APs
Alexandre da Cunha
Alexandre da Cunha (b.1969) is a Brazilian-born artist who lives and works in London and São Paulo. He has referred to his practice as ‘pointing’ as opposed to ‘making’. By ‘pointing’ at existing objects in plain sight, da Cunha highlights new and unexpected meanings within the objects he chooses. This approach allows him to disentangle preconceptions and instinctive responses inherent to particular objects, restoring them with alternative modes of viewing and understanding. Given their renewed possibility, da Cunha’s sculptures inspire lush potential, illuminating everyday encounters with these ordinary materials. For instance, household cleaning objects suddenly conjure spiritual significance, while seemingly mundane industrial ready-mades echo art historical precedents.
Central to da Cunha’s practice is the ready-made. Specifically, how the ready-made is affected by narrative, history, and the results of labour. In da Cunha’s work, an object’s original design and function endures within the sculpture: a mop can be transformed into a tapestry but the narrative of the object lives on in the work. In this way, da Cunha’s sculptures constitute a microcosm which preserves the historic and economic reality of the original object. He has exhibited widely throughout the world with selected solo exhibitions including: Duologue with Phillip King, Royal Society of Sculptors, London, England (2018); Boom, Pivô, São Paulo, Brazil (2017); Free Fall, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, England (2016); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago IL (2015); Dublê, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2011), and Laissez-Faire, Camden Arts Centre, London, England (2009). Alexandre da Cunha’s work is included in major private and institutional collections including the Tate, England; ICA Boston, U.S; and Inhotim, Brazil. Major outdoor sculptures by da Cunha are on permanent view at the Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis, MI; the Monsoon Building in London, and the Rochaverá Tower in São Paulo.