Joana Vasconcelos: Casarão: Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Installation Views

The exhibition Casarão marks Joana Vasconcelos’ return to Casa Triângulo, a decade after her last show at this gallery, and after the recent success of the exhibitions she held at Château de Versailles and at the Venice Biennale. The youngest artist and first woman to exhibit in Versailles returns to Brazil, six years after Contaminação, the monumental intervention presented at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.

Casarão proposes the invasion of the gallery’s space by a group of faience animals, designed by one of the most renowned Portuguese artists of the 19th century, Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846–1905). Joana Vasconcelos appropriates some of the animals belonging to Bordalo’s vast bestiary, presenting them ambiguously protected, or imprisoned/domesticated, by a sensual crochet mesh.

Bathroom equipment is used in the works Medusa and Água Viva. The first presents itself in the form of a small washbasin through which extensions of unusual volumes in crochet pass and go through. Água Viva features two shower heads installed on the wall, linked together by festive textile sleeves in suspension, as if escaping from where once we would see water fall. They are perhaps the bowels of architecture or the viscera of our domestic intimacy, metamorphosed into textiles that challenge the rational order of the architectonic space.

Three boxes—Catuaba, Delícia, and Cravo e Canela—covered in azulejos (Portuguese tiles) are placed on the wall at our eyes’ level, like paintings that once assumed themselves as windows, open to the world. Abstract, textile volumes burst from their interior; unrecognizable forms whose materials, textures, and techniques we, nevertheless, identify.

Sarabande blurs the borders between painting and sculpture, body and landscape, the figurative and the abstract. Through an exuberant frame, of baroque inspiration, colored crochet forms escape, insinuating an uneven terrain or voluminous bodies of an uncommon burlesque universe, of domestic sense.

The popular electronic game Tetris lends its name to the series to which the work Aquarela belongs. The parallelepipedal volumes, covered in azulejos, are crossed and serpentined by tubes and protuberances in crochet or varied types of textile. The rigidity of the ceramics is invaded by malleable organic, textile forms, in a happy encounter between opposites united by color.

Joana Vasconcelos summons and crosses apparent singularities from different popular cultures, conferring a universal range on them. Casarão – title taken from the second Brazilian soap opera broadcast in Portugal, in the 1970s, in which two Portuguese actors shone—offers us the domestic as an area of both meeting and confrontation between the private and the public, masculine and feminine, artisanal and industrial, popular and erudite culture; and Joana Vasconcelos is the hostess who welcomes us in this familiar—albeit ironically defying—place where all the programmed routines of everyday life take place.