Galleria Franco Noero is pleased to announce the opening of the second solo exhibition of works by Tunga in Italy, for the first time being shown in the spaces of Piazza Carignano 2. Tunga was one of the most important and influential Brazilian artists of his generation, and he expressed himself through an extremely eclectic variety of media and artistic languages, ranging from drawing to sculpture, to installation, photography, performance, film, video, and writing.
The works on show in this exhibition are of great symbolic impact. Some of them have never been exhibited before and are being presented for the first time. The focus is on the processes and references that were most dear to the artist, and on the works he created during the later years of his career, prior to his untimely death. They range from the more intimate scale of drawings and small sculptures to the power and majesty of a large installation of vast scope. The exhibition opens with two elements that are absolutely typical of Tunga’s art. Two puppets hanging from the ceiling of the entrance room, suspended in theatrical expectation, call upon the visitor to look closely at the materials they are made of: rock crystal and sponge. Elements that suggest alchemic qualities of transformation, metaphorical objects with a dual nature in both form and consistency. They recall both the human and the natural, bringing them together to create a harmonious and surprising equilibrium.
This equilibrium is also recalled in a photograph hanging on an adjacent wall. In this work, which is one of the artist’s most iconic, the face is covered by a seashell that in Latin America is called an “elephant’s ear”. The shell takes the place of the facial features, as though it had been specially created by nature for that very purpose. Even though they come from two distinct lines of work, the thirty-plus drawings in the exhibition take up the surrealist vocabulary of the body and the tension between the conscious and the unconscious. This can be seen in the ethereal series of ‘Anjos Maquiados’, in which a succession of almost liquid images – impressions with a high degree of erotic content – are sketched in visceral tones of pink and vermilion using make-up products. But it is also true of the sublime, delicate ‘Quase Auroras’, in which delicate watercolours idealise evanescent, transcendental figures that transform themselves, changing into other bodies or, quite simply, disappearing into the material ivory-coloured grain of the handmade paper used by the artist. Drawing is a key starting point for Tunga, and the beginning of a visual narrative that is then transposed into a sculptural form. The ‘Morphological’ series, which is distributed evenly throughout the exhibition, is the result of a sublimated research, filled with the symbolism of human and organic forms, in a play of allusions, atmospheres and suggestions. Each element in bronze, whether placed on the ground or on a table supported by wooden stools from the artist’s studio, enjoys a poetic freedom of expression that combines the complexity, superimposition and interpenetration of different forms, while assuming a sense of intimacy in the eyes of the visitor.
On show for the first time in Europe and put on display only once – in the artist’s studio, to which Tunga himself invited some musicians, poets and artists – ‘Delivered in Voices’ is shown in the central spaces of the gallery. The installation is designed to invite viewers to interact with it and become part of it by means of their amplified voices. Inside a terracotta bell at the centre of the work there are three microphones, which are connected to three constructions, or ‘personalities’, that surround the central element. Who will the person inside the bell talk to? Who will they communicate with? Will it be a plant, a meteorite, or a quartz crystal? Loudspeakers and projectors are constituent elements of each ‘personality’. An exorcism can be heard in the one that contains a Sansevieria plant, while in another a meteorite blends into the voice of Dylan Thomas reading his poems. In the third and last one, the howling of wolves is directed at a quartz crystal. Colour pictures of cartoons are projected on the ground and onto the surface of each of these three elements.
Visitors are invited to express themselves freely, with their voices amplified and superimposed on each of the three elements. Tunga (b. Palmares, Brazil 1952 – d. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2016). His work has been shown in solo exhibitions in public institutions including the Pinacoteca São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2018), Tate Modern, London, England (2018); Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2018); Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil(2017-18); Centre d’Arts et de Nature, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, France (2015); Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil (2012); Museu Rodin Bahia, Salvador, Brazil (2010); MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2007); Musée du Louvre, Paris, France (2005); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2001); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico (2001); Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, USA (1998); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA (1997-1998); Bard College – Center for Curatorial Studies, New York, USA (1997-8); Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, Scotland (1990); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA (1989); Whitechapel Gallery, London, England (1989); Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1974). He has also taken part in numerous exhibitions such as the Bienal de São Paulo (1981, 1987, 1994, 1998, 2013 and 2018), 3rd Moscow Biennale (2009); Venice Biennale (1982, 1995, 2001); Valencia Biennale (2001) Gwangju Biennale (2000), Biennale de Lyon (2000), Bienal de La Habana (1994) and group exhibitions in such institutions as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France (2018); Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (2017); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2014); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany (2013); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2013); Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2010); Miami Art Museum, Miami, USA (2009); Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2003); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2002); Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2000). Tunga’s work can be seen in the permanent collections of major museums and institutions around the world, including the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2002; Tate Collection, London, England; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul Ado Malagoli, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Niterói, Brazil; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA; Diane and Bruce Halle Collection, Phoenix, USA; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, USA; Cisneros Fontanais Art Foundation, Miami, USA; Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil; Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, USA; Art Institute of Chicago, USA.