Donkey Man

18 Feb — 25 Mar 2017 at Mendes Wood DM in São Paulo, Brazil

Donkey Man, exhibition view. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM
Donkey Man, exhibition view. Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM
13 MAR 2017

It is with great pleasure that Mendes Wood DM presents the exhibition of the Italian artist Alessandro Carano and the Italian-Brazilian artist Francesco João Scavarda at the gallery.

Individually, our works don’t have much in common, but we both work with an idea of the sublime that is less related to the common romantic sense than to the strange feeling of adrenalistic discomfort that you feel when facing the unpredictable or the unknown.

It’s the same sensation of panic you feel when you visit rotten.com and start clicking on the images, before having the feeling you want to vomit.

We hope the works showcased here don’t evoke the latter. Our aim is to reflect on the first feeling, that is, the idea that, according to the Law of Large Numbers , it is easy to foresee the outcome – win or lose – of the totality of clients in a casino, even though it is not simple to foreseeing the success of an individual game. This has led us to think about the predictability of Large Numbers. For instance, in the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) , you can buy tons of wheat for millions of dollars from crops that haven’t yet been planted. It is interesting how, on these terms, the future is much more predictable than we usually think it is. It is tangible and it represents a constant investment potential - an ever winning bet.

If, on one hand, we tend to get closer to the future because its promises are comforting to us; on the other hand, we tend to accommodate ourselves in the past because of its certainties and the convenient fact that everything that is proposed has already been digested and accepted. In this sense, we don’t struggle to recognise the beauty of, for instance, the Sistine Chapel or Donatello’s pulpits at the San Lorenzo Basilica in Florence, even though they were highly criticised during their respective times of making.

The past gives us experience; the future, hope. There is something comforting about both. The present - which separates the two in the timeline - is harder to find as we hide it well. In the present there are no hopes, there is no time for interpretation. The present is not predictable; everything is just the way it is. This is precisely what interests us.

If it is true that on the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog, it is also true that no one knows you are a human being. It doesn’t matter if you’re twelve years old, a mother, a Canadian, a robot or a ghost; what matters is the information, the content, the thing in itself, as it is: the present.

Upon reflection we have concluded that there has already been a period when humans lived in the present. At the time of the hunter-gatherers or the Neanderthals, prior to the birth of History itself, the concept of time was probably closer to Google’s concept of time, that is, the less time it takes me to find something the better. And that’s it.

What happened when the Homo sapiens, or if you prefer, the modern man, encountered the Neanderthal? According to Anthony Hopkins in the HBO series Westworld : we ate them.

Whether the Homo sapiens ate the Neanderthals or not is irrelevant, since one stepped back to give way to the other, more evolved species. However, to think that we are still Homo sapiens after 200,000 years is somewhat disappointing. We are in need of a boost.

In Lo and Behold, Werner Herzog tells us about the first information ever exchanged on the Internet, in its early days of experimentation - the word Lo. It was part of the expression Log In but the primitive connection dropped and the receiver only got the first two letters.

When thinking about this, it is natural to conclude that this is merely a curious anecdote, in the same way that the well-known Nintendo Game Donkey Kong Country was also named after a similar information error as it’s most likely that the letter M in Monkey (the game’s protagonist) became the D in Donkey; irrelevant facts that haven’t prevented us from being here and now.

This is to say that what interests us is the present as unpredictable and the thirst for knowledge that leads human beings to search for the unexplored, hunting and gathering as the cave monkey man, repeating pre-history. It doesn’t matter where the contemporary monkey man came from, or if he is a man, woman or child. He/she/it is abstract and dissipates in the information. Donkey Man.

Alessandro Carano (Gallarate, 1984) lives and works in Milan. Carano’s works investigate elements in the margins of artistic production, materials that interact physically with time and environmental circumstances. Physical changes in objects of art are at the core of his research. In his wall installations, the artist challenges the structural elements of painting, through collage, bricolage, and materials such as wire, silver tape and nails. His main exhibitions include: Goodguys (Gran Riserva), Gasconade, Rome (2014); A Two-dimensional Surface Without Any Articulation Is A Dead Experience, BeatTricks, Milan (2014); Fuoriclasse, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan (2012); Lady Dior As Seen By, La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2012).

Francesco João Scavarda (Milan, 1987) lives and works in São Paulo. The idea that there is a familiarity in the images constructed in the painting interests Scavarda, something habitual, but at the same time providing a feeling of estrangement. The sublime as unknown, unexplored. Scavarda rejects the question of the pictorial process, his attention is only placed on the painting itself, the incontestability of this media as being the archetype of the work of art. The discussion on the materiality of the artwork is promoted by the use of gouache on canvas, which allows the pigment to penetrate the canvas, making the latter no longer only a support for the subject, but a part of the subject itself. His exhibitions include: Everything tends to ascend. Or not., Pivô, Sao Paulo (2016); Summertime ’78, Kunsthalle São Paulo, Sao Paulo (2015); Nimm’s Mal Easy, Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel (2015), Extra DRY, Peep Hole/DRY, Milan (2014), Dizionario di Pittura, Galleria Francesca Minini, Milan (2014), The Opposite of the Opposite Opposite of the Opposite, Gasconade, Milan (2012).