(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
The gallery Silvia Cintra + Box 4 holds the solo show “Fachada” [“Façade”], by artist Laercio Redondo, to open on the 15th May. The exhibition consists of four main artworks: a sentence cast in bronze, a film, a set of silkscreens in plywood boards and an enlarged 1950s postcard.
Laercio Redondo uses a remarkable piece of modern Brazilian architecture as starting point: the Capanema Palace, formerly used by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Rio. Designed by left-wing architects and artists, the building which was conceived during the Vargas dictatorship phase incorporates a contradiction: the architecture represented a system based on democratic values and simultaneously corresponded to the modern nation’s perspective of the regime.
The building façade film is key for understanding the installation. In a single take, the camera vertically goes from the building’s ground floor to its terrace and surpasses it, showing the city, the ocean and the horizon. The film depicts the building nowadays and, on the back of the projection screen, Redondo printed images of the Palace when it was being built. Next to these representations, black monochromatic frames act as markers where the viewer is left to wonder what the Palace was, what it could have been and what it can be.
Working with architect Birger Lipinski, Laercio Redondo created devices that resemble the building’s windows, where the silkscreens of current photographs of the Palace are shown, taken by the artist himself. Redondo juxtaposes several visual details, such as the Vargas bust, Portinari paintings and the Brazilian flag, among other images that refer to the complex history of the Palace. The collage effect created by these fragments evokes the contradictory legacy of how distinct ideologies manifested themselves in the same physical space.
The Capanema Palace originally was the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health, whose premiss was the development of a modern, “healthy” nation. Thus, a postcard of the time was printed and enlarged, showing an athlete in front of the building, taking us back but also reflecting the present: when we on the eve of large sport events such as the World Cup and the Olympic ames, which impact greatly on the current socio-economical development of Rio.
In the back gallery wall is the sentence cast the bronze: “Actually, the city of Rio does not exist yet”, by Le Corbusier on his trip to Rio in 1936. The sentence suggests how modernism was perceived as a radical solution for development without however taking into account the local realities. Even so, as in the case of the heroic athlete on the opposite side of the gallery, Le Corbusier’s words can reflect the city nowadays and its future.
By overlaying different periods in time and elements, all gathered in this architecture piece, Redondo’s work reactivates a perspective on political history. He creates a space where the viewer can evaluate the complexity of historical memory and its ambiguities from different perspectives. “Fachada” suggests the multiple historical context of building the Capanema Palace and the possible meanings the façade takes on today.
“Fachada”, solo show by Laercio Redondo
Opening 15th May, from 7pm
On view from 16th May to 21st June
Galeria Silvia Cintra + Box 4
Rua das Acácias 104, Gávea
Mon-fri, 10am to 7pm; Saturdays from 12am to 7pm
T: 55 21 2521-0426