BADEN-BADEN, Germany — Using recycled textiles, driftwood, and furniture, Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes creates oversized biomorphic sculptures that are palpably corporeal. In her Museum Frieder Burda exhibition I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide, “Lona” (2010) takes the form of a dream catcher made from scraps of lace with a floral motif, stretching across the wall like a deflated lung. Similarly, “Hiato” (2019), which hangs from the ceiling, recalls a fibrous sac stuffed with wads of deconstructed cloth. At first glance, the sculpture seems to mimic a pallid heart muscle, bypassed by seams that resemble hand-stitched arteries. The next moment, it evokes a fetus ballooned in a crocheted lemon net. In Gomes’s work, fabric swallows fabric.
“Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things,” wrote French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in his 1964 essay “Eye and Mind.” “Because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself.” Gomes’s organ-like organisms are bodies among bodies that serve also as self-portraits through the artist’s use of found and gifted materials. The act of pulling these materials apart and stitching them into a new form — of sewing and tying and retying and twisting and tying again — creates a tangible bridge between the past and the present.
Gomes, the daughter of a white businessman in the textile industry and a Black mother who died when the artist was three, is inspired by this dichotomy. Her aesthetic is influenced by the Catholic traditions of her father’s family as well as the ancient healing rituals performed by her maternal grandmother throughout her youth. Titling the installation after Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” Gomes invokes her Afro-Brazilian history and asserts her internal strength.
Gomes finds objects at thrift stores and receives clothing with sentimental value as gifts. These objects are imbued with the traces of lives lived in them. Yet the colonial dissemination of labor and industrialism are subtly reflected in her work, which relies on the textiles fabricated within its very system. There is, thus, an underlying violence in Gomes’s colorful sculptures, in the silent entanglement of labor and commerce — a ghost of the textiles’ producers and wearers. In “Cordão dos Mentecaptos” (2016), a tied rope that hangs in a whimsical fashion takes on the form of an umbilical cord, an outstretching vine, or a lynching rope dragged across the floor. It projects fruit-like shapes onto the wall, which are upheld by a shape that reveals itself as a noose The artist tacitly inserts bodies with her swollen sculptures; her stitched wires and strings could be cages or limbs, but these bodies boycott complacency or inertia.
Sonia Gomes: I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide continues at the Museum Frieder Burda (Lichtentaler Allee 8b, Baden-Baden, Germany) through March 8.
Editor’s Note: The exhibition originated at Salon Berlin, September 7-February 22, 2020.
The Los Angeles-based photographer offers an updated version of the mythologized American cowboy, calling rodeos “the traditional drag of America.”
At its core Line Berg’s Fra Far manifests the anguish of a family whose loved one is convicted of a serious crime.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
At first, simply watching people read In Search of Lost Time might seem dull; by the end, you’ll be itching to read or reread it yourself.
Duniyana Al-Amour was one of at least 44 Palestinians killed in Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
It is the first national museum in England to agree to restitute looted Benin items, increasing pressure on the British Museum to do the same.
The footprints, discovered on the salt flats of a US Air Force training site, are believed to date back to the last Ice Age.
An extraordinary variety of artists came to Jon Swihart and Kim Merrill’s backyard potlucks, discussing not just their work, but also the events and challenges of their lives.
With A Lion for Every House at the Art Institute of Chicago, Floating Museum riffs wildly on the art rental programs of some museums.
A Thing for the Mind takes Philip Guston’s 1978 painting “Story” as a starting point to examine the myriad ways in which this piece has filtered into the work of other painters.