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Simplicity of the humble object as modern art: Obras at Lora Reynolds Gallery

Curated by Lea Weingarten, Lora Reynolds Gallery presents Obras, an exhibition of sculpture and installation by nine contemporary Brazilian artists.

Obras is on view from Jan. 23 through March 26, with an opening reception on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 6-8 pm, including an artist talk at 7 pm.

The artists’ primary media are humble materials — wood, concrete, paper — and ready-made objects such as wine glasses, a shopping bag and T-shirts. They employ a light touch in blurring the boundaries between disposability and preciousness, revealing that minimal shifts in context can dramatically alter our perception of objects, ideas or situations.

Nothing is immutable.

Alexandre da Cunha (b. 1969, Rio de Janeiro) strips household and industrial objects of their utility and familiarity: At first glance stacks of toilet plungers (without their handles) seem to be ancient earthenware, straw hats resemble nipples and areolae, mop heads might be phallic totems, and gaudy beach towels stitched together become epic paintings. Da Cunha elevates everyday objects normally associated with specific, mundane activities into grand, timeless symbols of humanity, art history and culture.

Fernanda Gomes (b. 1960, Rio de Janeiro) offers delicate sculptures that are constructed from wood, gold leaf, thread, water, matchboxes or tissue paper. She may coat her “things” (her preferred descriptor) with a thin layer of white paint; if not, she leaves their original color — the tawny brown of wood, brick or an unfolded tea bag. Gomes‘ sculptures are assembled from found, repurposed materials, but instead of unleashing a given object’s associative power (as da Cunha does) Gomes coaxes out the pure, simple, intrinsic beauty hiding deep within each humble treasure.

Maria Nepomuceno (b. 1976, Rio de Janeiro) coils vibrant rope and beads into complex networks of tendrils that culminate in round pads or bulbs. The sculptures droop from the ceiling, crawl up a wall, or sometimes just seem to wriggle on the floor. Her soft, biomorphic forms recall carnivorous pitcher plants, the nervous system’s dendrites and axons, sun hats, hammocks, and brass instruments. Her work is built from various configurations of spirals, a shape rich with associations of connectivity, community, interdependence — and DNA, the foundation of our existence.

Obras includes artwork by Alexandre da Cunha, Marcius Galan, Fernanda Gomes, Jac Leirner, Rodrigo Matheus, Ana Mazzei, Maria Nepomuceno, Lucas Simões and Erika Verzutti.