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David Adamo

03/02 2013 – 03/23 2013


Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present American artist David Adamo’s first exhibition in Brazil. The exhibition will take place in partnership with Pivô an artist-run project space in Oscar Niemeyer’s landmark Copan building in downtown São Paulo.

Adamo is known for his humorous and personable approach to sculpture, which through a series of resizings, relocations, and revelations inscribe raw materials and ready-mades with a feeling of intimacy, personality, and an often-poignant quirkiness. An experience of his installations ranges from a sensation of music in silence to meaningfulness in objects that have lost their use-value. Adamo also has an established performance practice and a background in dance, which he brings to his sculpture by placing importance on the body, the space, movement and emotion. The latter is apparent in his Museum, museum series of performances. In 2007, for the Performa Biennial in New York, he spent a day standing in front of Sargent’s Madame X painting at the Metropolitan, a gesture of simple, silent reverence for the ineffable experience of a work of art. More recently, in a 2011 performance at the Bergen Kunsthalle in Norway, Adamo spent a night in the museum improvising on a piano in total solitude.

In a new installation made in Brazil, Adamo has created a collection of delicate, hewn pillars roughly to scale with the human body from a group of like-sized red cedar timbers. In the first instance, the viewer is struck by the physicality of the process. Through force and caloric expenditure, these dense blocks of wood have been brought to a sort of robust fragility, cores chiseled and structures exposed, their remains gathered around them.

Arranged intuitively in the gallery space, the sculptures evoke at once minimalism and folk art. The choice of cedar – prized for its durability and insect-repellant qualities and used for things as varied as canoes and shingle siding – is a nod to a long tradition of woodworking. And the use of traditional techniques and tools like the adze evoke a sense of labor, workmanship and craft, of hewing, lifting, and chiseling. The organization of the timbers in the gallery also reflects David Adamo’s concern for the material and spatial specificity of the sculptural object. In their scattering throughout the space the sculptures involve the architecture of the gallery, activating corners and idiosyncrasies.

Although close to abstraction, the pillars are remarkably anthropomorphic, as if Adamo had endowed them with a temperament. Here, a colorful sock adorns the brow of a minimalist sculpture; there, a painted tee shirt swathes a small block of wood. Some works lie down, some stand up and others nearly pirouette. As if to underscore the unique absurdity of this gathering of individuals, a model train set runs along the ceiling. This sensibility provokes an emotional response from the viewer, that hovers somewhere between narrative and abstraction.

David Adamo was born in Rochester, NY, US in 1979 and has lived and worked in Berlin since 2008. He has participated in group shows including No Sense of Place, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, NO; based in Berlin, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE; Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, US; Greater New York at MoMA P.S.1, NY, US. Recent solo shows include Kunstverein Bielefeld, DE; Basilica Di Santa Maria Maggiore, Bergamo, IT and Kunsthalle Fribourg, CH.

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