In his first solo exhibition for a UK public gallery, Brazilian artist Tonico Lemos Auad presents a lyrical response to the natural environment and architecture of De La Warr Pavilion. Inspired by the sea, the coast and gardening, Auad draws together recent sculptural works with a new commission subtly exploring ideas around faith, resistance, mending and repairing, and the endeavour to overcome adversity.
Auad disregards material value to create expressive, often transient forms using a wide range of materials, from the ephemeral and everyday to the precious and enduring. Notions of luck, traditional anecdotes, chance, and the supernatural pervade a practice that is also a darker exploration of existence, the brevity of life and nearness of death.
At De La Warr Pavilion, Auad presents several recent works that are poetic yet playful interventions on the floor and walls, and suspended from the ceiling. Seven Seahorses (2013), a hanging work in seven parts made from linen, is followed by a series of small sculptures, In the wave-strike over unquiet stones. Made from dense sea chalk and threaded with delicate yellow and white gold and silver lettering, they are distinguished by titles referencing Pablo Neruda’s poetry: Being and Nothingness (2012); Merged You and I, Seal The Silence (2012); and While the sea destroys its continual forms (2012). In Small Fires (2015), around hundred tin cans arranged across the floor form micro landscapes, their surfaces mostly scratched away leaving colourful motifs depicting miniature palm groves, icebergs, animals, fruit and flowers, and other natural environments.
Auad's new commission for De La Warr Pavilion stems from his fascination with gardening and how it can activate social interactions and trigger acts of sharing, negotiating, healing and exchange. Containing a plant bed sculpture, the work is an open installation inside the exhibition, offering a flexible space for talks by gardening specialists and interactions with the public.
In 2011 Auad was commissioned by Folkestone Triennial to produce Carrancas, a series of several sculptures inspired by Brazilian boat figureheads situated around the harbour; and in 2006 featured in the British Art Show. He has exhibited internationally and has work in many major collections.
Tonico Lemos Auad was born in 1968 in Belém, capital of Pará in northern Brazil. He lives and works in London, England. Recent and major solo exhibitions include; Tonico Lemos Auad, Pivô, São Paulo, Brazil (2015), Paisagem Noturna, Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil (2013); Tonico Lemos Auad, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2012-2013); Figa, CRG Gallery, New York, USA (2012); Sleep Walkers, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2011); Epílogo, Zapopan Museum, Zapopan, Mexico (2010); Mouth, Ears, Eyes...Just like us, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2009); Silent Singing, CRG Gallery, New York, USA (2008); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, USA (2007).