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Risco do Tempo

14/04/ 2012 – 05/05 2012


Mendes Wood DM is proud to present the first solo exhibition of Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes' new sculptures in cloth and wire. Gathered along the walls and hung from ceiling to floor, the eclectic fabric contortions evoke simultaneously the idea of viscera and the sacred object, mixing expressions of love, domesticity and totemic terror.

Weaving together fabrics both found and gifted, Gomes follows the fault lines of affect or memory – this child’s blanket, that woman’s dress, a table cloth – making and revealing arrangements intuitively. In their sheer candor, her sculptures become impressively expressionistic; seemingly free to do what they like. Her work reflects Renaissance artist Michelangelo’s belief that sculpture was a process of revelation, of rendering explicit the inner life of objects. He was known to have said, “Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop.”

Skin is important within the body of Gomes’ work. The organ of sensuous contact with the world, it at once defines and limits experience. Cloth is a second skin, and a sense of personal history permeates her fabric sculptures. A believer in the élanvitale, she trusts that every material is magnetized with the latency of life.


Here is a recent conversation with the artist in her studio in Belo Horizonte:

Where does your work come from?
I work with art to express myself, I do not know where it comes from, but I feel I would have to live 200 years to complete it. There is no doubt that there are links with the past, but this notion of temporality comes from theidea that everything that has passed can be brought back to life again.

Does your work have a character of racial identity or memory of slavery?
My work comes from the unconscious and my choices are not objective ones. The world is extraordinary; full of differences... this is what interests me. I’m black, the culture is strong, and even though I don’t have this concern directly, it’s explicit in the work.

Does your work have an underlying theme?
I try to give life and movement to everything I do. There is no separation between my work and my life. It's all one thing; I put my house, my bed, necklaces and clothing through artistic processes, putting everything on the same plane. It is necessary to do so – it is necessary to do so! That’s all I know.

Do you remember where your work could have come from; are there references to you rchildhood?
My grandmother was a midwife and a healer, she represents a strong continuity with past. She is very present in me as she too worked with life. I try to put myself in everything I do and my memories are very present throughout the work. As I have said before, life and art are one andthe same thing. In some way, I feel that art has invaded my life... The feeling is that, if you are an artist, you cannot escape... there is only the possibility of full release or of a prison.

Tell me about the materials. How do you feel working with old and used clothes and fabrics?
The material comes to my studio alive, asking for help. People bring things from their families, a bedspread or a tablecloth – pieces of life. The other day a friend said, “My mother gave me this blanket when I was a small child and now I know what to do with it. I entrust it to you!” Recently, the family of a great embroiderer, Alva Horta de Azevedo Cruz (to whom I pay homage), entrusted me with a body of material, lots of embroideries and patterns, among them one of 1945. You can clearly see my responsibility...

Is there a relationship between Brazilian popular art and your work?
My work moves between the popular and the erudite.

Is there any prejudice related to that?
Not on my part. Actually, I love popular art. I enjoy encounters of difference. Although I have felt the burden of these categories, they do not actually concern me. I work with contrasts.

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