August 14, 2009

“Lichen” Gallery Show at Factory Fresh

Seeking out new art sometimes takes you off the beaten path. Recently my girlfriend and I found ourselves in the neighborhood of Bushwick in Brooklyn, wandering about, trying to find our way to an opening. The streets were quiet as we made a few wrong turns. The buildings we walked past were massive and industrial looking. Every now and then we came across a loft building with the faint sound of a guitar or saxophone drifting out of the open windows. It really felt like a different world from the sleek gallery district of Chelsea we are accustomed to visiting for a new show. However, nestled amongst the meat packing plants and bodegas is a thriving creative economy of galleries, lofts, and art spaces, attracting a slew of home grown and international artists.

When we found Factory Fresh, we were welcomed by warm music, plenty of Yuengling, and lively party goers enjoying a remarkable exhibition by three young artists all hailing from São Paulo. The show, titled Lichen, featured the work of Apolo Torres, Mundano, and Loro Verz. The title of the show, which refers to a fungal-bacterium that thrives throughout the Brazilian city, explores the intermingling of parasites and theirs hosts. When entering the gallery I was immediately struck by the diverse range of mediums and content; the gallery was jam-packed with paintings, sculptures, and installations.

In Apolo Torres’ stunning oil paintings, figurative and abstract bleed into one another creating dynamic, dream-like representations of Brazilian life. Figures, buildings, and vehicles are set against the gooey textures of his backgrounds. The drippy base of many of his painting are inspired by the aged and discolored walls of the buildings in São Paulo. Saude, Paz e Liberdade (above), one of the largest and most intricate of his works shown, is a beautiful depiction of a children’s soccer match being played in the street. It is set against the backdrop of dilapidated buildings where clothing hangs out to dry amongst the power lines. A kite flies off in the distance as a single figured perched on a rooftop looks out into the endless space. And even his fellow artist’s work can be found making an appearance. In the left corner of the canvas you see what appears be a tag from Mundano on the wall of a building.

=A stark contrast, Loro Verz renders a twisted psychedelic depiction of the lichen itself. With Gira 1-4, an invitation was scrawled on the wall of the gallery inviting you to spin one of the four works and stare into the center. From there you were instructed to turn you attention to two other works, Centra and Puteria Blues. Creatures, text, and squiggly lines appear to move throughout the painting and you begin to see the surface as a giant Petri dish mounted on the wall. The effect is playful and entrancing, somewhat reminiscent of a Magic Eye poster, except I could actually see this. The pieces were certainly a crowd favorite and they highlighted the interaction between the parasitic and human beings.

Mundano’s artwork employs several different mediums. The centerpiece of this show was an installation in the main gallery of a makeshift cart filled with various pieces of salvaged material. Similar carts are commonly used in São Paulo by Carroceiros, men who salvage garbage to exchange for money, and Mundano has left his mark on many of the carts throughout the city. The cart on display in the gallery was a site specific work entitled Carroceiros No. 57. All of the materials employed for its construction were collected in the surrounding neighborhood by Torres, Verz, and Mundano in the weeks leading up to the exhibition. In addition to this collaboration, the back courtyard of Factory Fresh featured a large mural by all three artists. Their styles interweave in black and white and wrap around three of the walls of the building. This impressive work served as a favorite gathering point for the attendees of the party.

This exhibition highlighted many the different parasites that live off the city, be it the lichen that engulfs the landscape in a phosphorescent glow or the Carrceios that live off of society’s refuse. It also highlights the strong sense that everything is connected. How everyone is feeding of one another, everything collaborates, everything requires a host, everyone needs a partner. The artists themselves feed off of São Paulo to make their art, bombing the walls of the buildings and looking to the urban habitat for inspiration for their studio work. And for this exhibition they fed off of each other’s energy to create a diverse yet synchronized body of work that made its way to Bushwick for a short but welcomed visit.

“Lichen” featured work by Loro Verz, Apolo Torres and Mundano
Factory Fresh, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Closed July 26, 2009

All images courtesy of Factory Fresh

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