Hugo Canoilas: Buoyant
May / June 2021
In May and June 2021, the Galerie Martin Janda will be showing new works by Hugo Canoilas in his first solo exhibition at the gallery.
The exhibition Buoyant comprises of a new group of paintings and glassworks, developed since 2020 specifically for this show. The universe of the exhibition is the deep sea, considered by the artist as a speculative field capable of absorbing projections of a non-colonised future. The deep sea provides us with a tangible experience of new forms of life, which we observe through the gathered data, specimens, and media collected by robots. Thus technology, biology, and art come together in an exercise, or attempt, to breach beauty with the purpose of creating greater empathy for all forms of life.
As the title of the exhibition indicates, the works oscillate between a horizontal and vertical plane. This derives directly from the natural movement of nautilus – one of the oldest existing creatures on the planet – which alternate between the surface of the water and the bottom of the sea in the course of its predatory daily routine. Following the same logic of association, the cnidarian and spider-like sea creatures also relate to the tentacular thinking promoted by Donna Haraway, which is latent in Canoilas’s practice. His work acknowledges otherness, and he refers to post-humanist currents of thought that question an anthropocentric view of the world, and call for an empathetic approach to nature and the natural environment.
Buoyant alsoelucidates the artist's process, as Canoilas interchanges his work between the floor and the wall. The wall being the surface where drawing happens - where an idea gains form. This moment is decisive in his paintings due to the characteristics of the materials that Canoilas uses; the fluid paint becomes part of the linen fibres and impossible to modify. There is therefore an enormous emergence in the translation of the image into gesture, which is processed through the abstract thought inherent to painting.
With the canvas then on the floor and Canoilas on his knees like a dog, his customary perspective of the work is altered, he embodies the animal gaze that cannot understand and cannot see the beginning or the end of the image. He allows nature, and the elements – water, gravity, and air drying – to merge and enter the work in a process that could be seen as mimetic of osmosis and symbiosis; a correlation between paint and natural fibres, between the artist and what is happening in front of him. These new works of Hugo Canoilas allow the natural forces of expansion and retraction in the paint to shape new forms. This fruitful relationship between painting and being painted, or being touched, initiates a renewal of Canoilas’s vocabulary in painting. In the artist's view, there is a new capacity to fix points of beauty or broken beauty, and other significant moments which occur in the studio. This could be the way a colour mixes with another, an ephemeral action, an accident, a bold gesture or decision, or even the stains and marks on the studio floor, which retain existence in the mind of the artist.
The works in glass positioned on the floor evoke this new freedom, which also comes from the materiality and processes inherent to glass making (a liquid material made solid). This reinforces the seduction of alchemy or the fluidity of knowledge in these works. They are placed on a plane without hierarchies, between one and the other and with the acknowledgement of otherness. The differences become necessary for development and fluidity of the ecosystem in which we live.
"There is a reason why art is interested in nature, an interest that is far from only a trend or fashion, and this reason is the long and legitimate desire of artists to find a place and a receiver outside a class system and its institutions, which see humans as the only beings concerned with art."(1)
In Chus Martinez's text The Invention is Nature there is a correlation between art that has an emphasis on process and nature. It gave meaning to the idea of art as living organisms, that usually painters accommodate in the form of a dialogue with the painting, where one must cultivate care, and make painting happen. This quality is underlined in Canoilas’s current paintings, which follow this mimetic relationship between process and nature. The way the depicted motifs are repeated, as if repetition and difference – that come from minimalism – is mimicking nature, or making nature happen within a new system of values.
(1) Chus Martinez, The Invention is Nature. In: Chus Martinez (ed.),The Wild Book of Inventions. Sternberg Press / FHNW Academy Basel, Berlin 2019, pp. 6–38, p. 7.
Hugo Canoilas, *1977 in Lisbon (PT), lives and works in Vienna (AT).
Canoilas is the winner of the Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize 2020/2021 and currently has a solo exhibition at mumok Vienna. Other exhibitions (selection): 2020 Museu Serralves, Porto; 2016 Museu do Chiado, Lisbon; 2015 Cooper Gallery, Dundee; 2008 Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Huarte; 2007 Frankfurter Kunstverein; 2021 Kunstverein in Hamburg; 2017 Kunsthalle Wien; 2014 De Appel, Amsterdam; 2012 Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; 2012 30th São Paulo Biennial.
We are looking forward to your visit!