Galeria Athena Contemporânea is pleased to inaugurate, on July 19 at 7pm, a solo exhibition by Laura Belém: Short Stories. The artist will be presenting two new series for the exhibition, which include sculptures and collages, and her creative process is revealed in a text written by the artist:
"If I could summarize the subject of the exhibition Short Stories in one sentence, I would say that it is about life, death, and then life again. The show features a series of sculptures and a series of collages, never shown before. The inspiration for the work came at first through my contact with the Shopping Cassino Atlântico, which sells antiques and also houses the Galeria Athena Contemporânea. My intention was to create a dialogue between the ambience of the shopping center and the art gallery. The sculptures from the series Short Stories (Still Life) emerged from my observing Cassino Atlântico, as well as my contact with the crafting of utilitarian pieces of soapstone in Minas Gerais.
While visiting one of the traditional soapstone workshops near Ouro Preto (MG), I found several utilitarian pieces that had been discarded by the artisans because they were unfinished, broken or had some manufacturing defect. The place was a soapstone milling workshop. The broken parts were deposited in a corner of the workshop and because they had been there for a long time, were completely covered with soapstone dust, which added another layer to them. Some remained solid—a bowl without a cavity; others without a base for them to be a container—as in the case of a bottle with no bottom. The sculptural potential of these pieces that ‘went wrong,' that didn’t serve their intended purpose, interested me. And that started my rescue process of these discarded objects, both in this workshop and in others in the region.
What was left of the objects having no function was a new form and a trace of the transformation process of rough stone, of the creation and work of the artisan. Before my visit, some of these pieces were being separated to be destroyed and turned into powder, continuing the cycle of life. Others had already been thrown out on the grounds around the workshops, mingling with the soil. My interest in these pieces as sculptures, however, came from beyond their formal potential to incorporate chance, defect, and the action of time—they became relics of the process. The rescue and choice of pieces was followed by a procedure of covering and sticking the soapstone powder to the 'newly found sculptures,' as if to eternalize chance and the activity of time, and also to reveal the raw material into which the pieces would be transformed if they were destroyed. The final step was the forming of sets of the pieces, joined by function, likeness, or potential meaning. Thus Short Stories (Still life) was born.
The other series of works in the exhibition, Tapestry (Big Bang), resulted more directly from my contact with the Cassino Atlântico and in particular with the fair that takes place there on Saturdays when long carpets are laid in the corridors and on the floors of the shopping center, transforming its entire feel. The carpets are there to be sold and many of them are Persian, with floral or fauna motifs. Tapestry (Big Bang) resulted from a series of photographs of the details of these rugs, which were printed on rice paper, and then torn by hand to transform them into new collage compositions on paper. Movement, contraction and expansion, are present there, and this is emphasized by the title as well as the idea of the creation. In cosmology, Big Bang refers to the rapid expansion of the matter that gave origin to the universe. The end and the beginning connected, the fragment and the whole, the cycle of time, transformation, daily life altered—these are some of the ideas behind the exhibition.”
Laura Belém, July 4, 2016
Laura Belém was born in Belo Horizonte, in 1974. She attended a Bachelor of Arts at Escola de Belas Artes of Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1996) and a Master of Arts in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, UK (2000). Belém participated in artist-in-residence programs of several institutions, such as in Madrid, New York and Toronto. Since 1998 she has been taking part of exhibitions in Brazil and abroad.
She was granted Pampulha Scholarship from Museu de Arte da Pampulha, (Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2003-4), as well as CIFO Grants and Commissions Program / “Emerging Recipients” from The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, (Miami, USA, 2011), and the CNI SESI Marcantonio Vilaça Visual Arts Award (Brasília, 2011-12).
The solo exhibitions already presented include: 2015 - Ilha Restaurante (Casa do Baile, Belo Horizonte); Hoje tem Cine (Sesc Palladium, Belo Horizonte, Brazil); Anekdota (Capela do Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil); 2013 - The Secret Garden (Galerie Virginie Louvet, Paris, France); 2012 - The temple of a thousand bells (York St Mary’s, York, UK); 2011- A Outra Paisagem (Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil); 2007 - Paisagem flutuante (MAMAM no Pátio, Recife, Brazil).
Among her main group exhibitions are: 2016 - Esforço-Desempenho (Galeria Athena Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro) 2015 - Procura-se (Tofiq House, São Paulo, Brazil); O Espírito de cada época (Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil); 2014 - Limited Visibility (CAM Raleigh, USA); Cruzamentos: contemporary art in Brazil (Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, USA); 2013 – Love and Hate to Lygia Clark (Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland); 2012-13 - Prêmio CNI SESI Marcantônio Vilaça para as Artes Plásticas (Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Cuiabá, Macapá and Maceió - Brazil); 2011 - Viewpoint (Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, USA); Quiet Attention (Art Tower Mito Contemporary Art Center, Mito-Shi, Japan); 2010-11: The more things change (SFMOMA, San Francisco, USA); 2010 - Paralela 2010 (Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, São Paulo); Paisagem Incompleta (Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil); 2009 - KURS: The Lake (The Art Museum of West Zealand, Denmark); Drawings: A-Z (Museu da Cidade, Lisbon, Portugal); 2008: Blooming (Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Japan); 2007 - Extra(ordinary): New Art from Brasil (York Quay Centre, Toronto, Canada); Panorama da Arte Brasileira (Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil); VI Bienal de Artes Visuais do Mercosul (Porto Alegre, Brazil); 2005 - 51st Venice Biennalle (Arsenale Galleries, Venice, Italy); 2003 - Prague Biennale (Veletrzní Palác, Prague).