Petrópolis, Brazil, 1984.
Lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil
PIPA nominee in 2012, 2015 and 2016.
Represented by Galeria Nara Roesler.
The work of Bruno Dunley questions the specificity of painting, particularly in relation to representation and materiality. His paintings depart from carefully constructed compositions, gradually undergoing corrections and alterations which, at times, reveal the lacunae in the apparent continuity of perception.
Recent solo exhibitions: “Ruído”, Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro, Brazi, 2015 and “No lugar em que já estamos”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014. Recent group exhibitions: “O corpo e obra de arte”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, “A História da Imagem”, SIM Galeria, Curitiba, Brazil, 2015; “Releituras da Natureza-Morta”, Carbono Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil, 2015; “Para Além do Ponto e da Linha”: Arte Moderna e Contemporânea no Acervo do MAC/USP, MAC/USP Nova Sede, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014; “Corrente”, coletiva no Sesc Belenzinho, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014 and “Prática portátil”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil, 2014.
Part of a new generation of Brazilian painters called 200e8, Dunley begins both from found images as well as from the analysis of the nature of painting, in which language codes such as gesture, plane, surface, and representation are understood as an alphabet, a common ground. A single colour constantly predominates the entire surface of his canvases, suggesting a minimalist visual language and attributing a meditative quality to some of his paintings. As stated by the artist “I see my work as a series of questions and affirmations about the possibilities of painting, about its essence and our expectations of it.” In the work of Dunley, promises are made and consequently broken, testing the limits of the viewer’s tension. Preconceived notions of painting and composition, in the work of the artist, are incessantly challenged in surprising ways.
This set of works by Bruno Dunley shown in this exhibit outline a noise-laden, dense scenario. There is a sort of crud encrusted in the making of the-se paintings. I say this for two reasons: the first is that the painting is dynamic; the line, far from being absent-minded, is the result of a clash with the world, for it mirrors the very speed and noise of the times we live in. We witness imperfections that range from the occasional tear on a paper sheet to the incongruity, at first glance, of the set of figures, gesturalities and symbols concentrated on the canvas, linen or paper sheets. What grabs my attention is the urge to fill the space of that material with a discourse that makes itself evident not exactly through what we see as the end result on the canvas or the paper, but substantially in the construction process. In this sense, gesturality, such an important element of Dunley’s work, is to a degree connected with the expressionistic painting process. We realize, whatever the material, that there is a power, a feeling, a will, albeit primal, that is being invested. These artworks are more broadly comprehended when close to one another. They form a narrative that renders explicit this less solar atmosphere that hovers about his work. This is not to say that they bring melancholy or sadness, but they seem to reflect the very discomfort and insecurity that contemporaneity entails. The idea of narrative is quite explicit in the his selection of paper, since it helps create a path or succession of visual and poetic possibilities, connected with this set of works. The artist uses the rectangle as the key geometric figure in his more recent work, its “body” or insides invested as an object of experien- ce and transformation. In articulating, filling, sequen- cing, and superimposing lines and gestures, such procedures feed a light-filled quasi-corpus (and, to quote from Gullar on the Neo-Concrete Manifesto, is a “being that can be deconstructed into parts for analysis but can only be fully understood through a direct, phenomenological approach”).
The rectangle is featured in two canvases, and they too show a tendency to erase, demystify, and somehow reroute it to a new experience. It is interesting to be faced with this investigation that breeds modulations and uncertainties, and may be welcome in art!, between what is color and what is light in painting. Note that the connections with the history of painting are very frequent in these works. Here, one finds the grid, the glaze, the light-and-shadow play, the trompe l’oeil, the sfumato. The superimposition of layers and textures helps reveal these meshes, and on the other hand endows the pieces with an air of mystery, particu- larly the paintings. They appear to reveal themselves little by little, as if they were unraveling, exhibiting themselves slowly and gradually. They don’t clarify anything; on the contrary, they make our interpre- tation of them doubtful, multiple. They hide more than they show themselves. This at once dubious and fugacious relationship is conducive to what one might call an “error-filled” painting. Note that by going back to the crud-like quality I described in the beginning, coupled with the imperfection of the forms, the fragmented, inconclusive figures and the successive layers and glazes that recomposed the narrative process of these paintings at every minute, Dunley’s work creates a sense of suffocation, i.e. the plane does not seem to account for the amount of relationships and images that are evoked. At this point, the artworks turn into fragments of stories, for they seem to occur and run their course before and after these forms appear. Several stories proliferate at once in that plane and it is up to us, the spectators, to make these connections or understand them as indi- vidual events. In short, it all seems open to our own musings. Do not mistake this particularity of the piece for something easy or which detracts from the piece. It takes the highest of competences to establish contact points or ties between fragments and references that gain consistence when together. The artist gathers dis- perse elements that take on relevance and pertinence as a group, especially when interpreted in light of the history of painting. In this sense, therefore, there is a referent to these works. In many ways, Dunley exposes the symbols/elements of the painting: he brings them together to relativize them, and in dispersing them, he ultimately puts them in evidence. The density and strength of his lines denotes a certain tension that these elements conjure. Everything happens at a fast pace, as if the painting itself were also dissatisfied with its condition of flatness. The painting travels the very movement of the world, of the overwhelming chain of information we sink under each day and, of course, of the discordances and unconformities of daily life.
This set of works speaks of an atmosphere, a conver- gence that brings them close. I reckon it is more reaso- nable for us to articulate this condition than to analyze them separately. And this ambience is deeply rooted in a sort of zeitgeist of our times. Turbulent, chaotic, tumultuous, shared, and to an extent violent, they cause us to realize the idiosyncrasies, contradictions and the dilacerating time of now. Like a symptom of the world or a simulacrum of the perceptions we experien- ce, these artworks approach, and their qualities combi- ne, a lived possibility of our being faced with the very condition of the world we live in: intolerant, dispersive, irresolute, severe, and to a degree incomprehensible.
‘In the place we already are’
Here it is. And now it is here. And here. And now, here. And now, here it is. In the singularities of a surface that is entirely inexactly green; of the alla prima, but not swift portrait in shades of bluish grey; of the stokes of black and white barely contained by a golden frame; of the bicycle, almost a landscape, that hails from the light-colored background in yet another layer of black paint. Formerly somewhat camouflaged under a skin of restrained tones, the appetite of Bruno Dunley’s work for the many things painting can encompass – most of all painting itself – begins to further embrace variety.
So much becomes clear in these recent canvases of his, which, while not foregoing their habitual feature, are willing to trim off a few of the images in windstorm everywhere, with their increasingly uncertain targets, in order to provide them, if not with precise coordinates, at least with some degree of settlement, a specificity as painting. As one deals with this specificity, a diverse set of pictorial procedures slowly finds in the picture the place of a configuration. Whichever way, wherever it comes from, something must decant in front of us each time. To that end, the piece features a careful floating attention towards what appears as one plays with those procedures, and towards what can be traced from the genealogy of certain images – be it the commonplace, the more typical, or that which is still blossoming. Everything takes place, literally and implicitly, in layers, whose extension in time is noticed in the vestiges of alterations and displacement throughout the entire medium and, in parallel, throughout the painting’s history.
This is what happens, for instance, in the intentionally tautologically titled picture, Retrato (Portrait), or in the abovementioned monochrome piece. As we all know, in much of the long-standing tradition of portrait as genre,
it is tacit that the effort made by the painter upon the surface of the canvas aims to portray the subject’s main psychological features, a character that would be revealed in the painted image of the body, especially the face, although it would lie “further behind,” hinted at, and not exactly visible. In a somewhat old-fashioned way, this Retrato, however, says little to nothing of the subject – who is, by the way, anonymous. The maneuvers in various layers of paint are on canvas, insisting on providing consistency of figure to a type of image whose character is already fairly worn out.
In turn, the monochrome possesses a much less extensive history, albeit significant, since it has been a legitimate pictorial genre since the early 20th century. It can include several layers of paint, always ultimately aiming for a surface result. Still, in the work of a series of artists involving widely diverse conceptions (from Malevich to Allan McCollum, for instance), it points to a vast amount of non-presented or even unpresentable “things,” whichever artifice is used on the plane of the picture. In a typically acute way, Dunley has produced, on his part, a monochrome which he has dubbed Chroma Key. The title alludes to the technique, used mostly in television and cinema, and consisting of a temporarily used neutral background onto which one or more images will be superimposed in postproduction. The irony of the title also stems from the fact that his monochrome, unlike said technique, exposes imperfections which are layers of other operations and colors underneath the radiant green. Thus, it gains increased presence and weight, which underpin it as a painting from the inside.
Another famous element of modernism, the grid, makes an appearance in another recent painting by Dunley. Even though, like the monochrome, the grid endows the painting with metaphysical contents for many, if it does so here, it continues to operate on the surface of the canvas with its orthogonal scheme of coordinates, in a self-referencing affirmation of the pictorial plane. What sets the painting at hand apart is the fact that in it, the grid emerges from the side of the plane that is normally not seen. By means of the painter’s actions on the surface of the canvas, it results from the mark of the structure that keeps the canvas stretched, and appears to run through the fabric heading in our direction. But it is more than that; it is a full confirmation of the materiality of the medium and of the work upon it.
A portrait of a portrait, a true grid, anti-chroma key monochrome, a drawing of a painting, circles like binoculars issuing forth from the hachure, like globes disappearing underneath spurts of colors, or like our suspended planet in the Vitrine (Shop Window) in indefinite time – amidst pictures, manners and names, reflecting on its own statute, almost everything in these paintings of Bruno Dunley assumes that it has a place within the ceaseless chain of echoes that whirlpools throughout the world. The often slightly elevated position of the figure or other elements which spring to attention on the canvas, before anything else, may have something to do with it. It is as though they were accusing the effects of that windstorm – which they would strive to compensate, therefore discovering their body as painting. Thus, they find their own strength exactly through that which is what it is.
Bachelors in Visual Arts. Faculdade Santa Marcelina, São Paulo, Brazil
Bachelors in Photography. Senac, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Ruído”, Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-“No lugar em que já estamos”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil
-“E”, Centro Universitário Maria Antonia, São Paulo, Brazil
-“11 Bis”, Paris, France
-“Os nomes”, Galeria Marilia Razuk, São Paulo, Brazil
-Ateliê 397, São Paulo, Brazil
-“O corpo e obra de arte”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil
-“A História da Imagem”, SIM Galeria, Curitiba, Brazil
-“Releituras da Natureza-Morta”, Carbono Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Para Além do Ponto e da Linha”: Arte Moderna e Contemporânea no Acervo do MAC/USP, MAC/USP Nova Sede, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Corrente”, coletiva no Sesc Belenzinho, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Prática portátil”, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Os primeiros 10 anos”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Assim é se lhe parece”, Paço das Artes, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Estou aqui”, Galeria Marilia Razuk, São Paulo, Brazil
-“A Contemplação do Mundo: Paralela 2010”, Liceu de Artes e Ofícios de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil –
-“Vistas a perder de vista: oito artistas contemporâneos”, Galeria Penteado, Campinas, Brazil
-“Deserto-modelo”, 713 Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
-“Superfície ativada”, Silvia Cintra + Box 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-“Nova arte nova”, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil
-5ª Exposição de Verão, Silvia Cintra + Box 4, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
-Programa de exposição 2008, Museu Victor Meirelles, Florianópolis, Brazil
-“2000 e oito”, SESC Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Ana Prata, Bruno Dunley e Marcos Brias”, Galeria Marília Razuk, São Paulo, Brazil
-“Entre 5”, Ateliê Rua Camilo, São Paulo, Brazil
-Summer residence in the Hamptons
- Read “Beauty and the beast and the desire in the world”, critical text by Leda Catunda
- Eight artists discuss the concept of beauty in the group show "A Bela e a Fera"
- A journey to Piauí through the eyes of seven artists
- On view | Brazilian artists presents "Projeto Piaui"
- Artists explore the possibilities of corporal representation in "O Corpo e a Obra de Arte"
- PIPA 2016 Nominees | 12th Bulletin
- On view | "ruído", solo exhibition by Bruno Dunley
- "ruído", solo exhibition by Bruno Dunley, presents results of a research by the artist
- PIPA 2015 Participating Artists | Final list
- PIPA 2015 nominees | Full list