Corpus Delicti and Other Lines
07 February — 06 April 2019
Galleria Franco Noero is pleased to announce the opening of Corpus Delicti and Other Lines, the first solo exhibition in Italy of works by Jac Leirner. The exhibition goes on display in the premises in Piazza Carignano, with a generous selection of works that focus on some of the themes that are most dear to the artist. It looks at his latest studies, forming an intense dialogue between his recent works and others made specially for the occasion.
The Brazilian artist’s works had already achieved international reach in the early 1990s, when he took part in the Venice Biennale (1990 and 1997) and in Documenta IX in Kassel (1992). His artistic research and vision had already taken shape in subjects that still offer inspiration for new lines of investigation, as we see in the Corpus Delicti series referred to in the title of this solo exhibition.
These “bodies of evidence” are objects or, more correctly, categories of objects literally smuggled off aeroplanes by the artist over the years: clearly declaring their not entirely legal origin would be tantamount to sabotaging the logic and functioning of a system, expressing a desire to break with convention, which are some of the most typical and distinctive aspects of his work.
Metal objects such as knives, forks and spoons, or colourful fabrics such as blankets, eye masks, socks, bags, plastic trays and ashtrays, drinking glasses, and paper labels for luggage together form a series of things that, when deprived of their functional qualities and removed from their pre-established order, open up a world of opportunities offered by characteristics that are not immediately perceived. Representing the infinite material world of what already exists, on which the artist draws to build his works, they are the instruments of a visual language that comes together to form a parallel metaphorical system that is just as valid and credible as the previous one, since it is based on its subversion.
The objects are gathered to form a collective installation in the main room of the Gallery. They are not just small, and not just stolen on airplanes, but also salvaged, as in the case of the food trolleys with shelves inside. Once they are freed from their repetitive throw-away cycle, they express a range of entirely new space-time characteristics. They call for a level of attention not normally granted to them, and they inspire a series of associations and links never previously revealed.
Jac Leirner’s work is often expressed through processes of collection and order: piles of objects and an acute, in-depth observation of their characteristics, breaking into their normal cycle of consumption, followed by a reformulation and conversion into visual qualities that, with as little mediation as possible, express colour, materiality, and a presence in space. These often mimic the salient characteristics of the objects themselves, using them as proportional paragons of size, as in the case of the compositions consisting of series of rulers or spirit levels, or cigarette papers arranged in millimetric grids.
Once he has created an expressive system based on the use of simple geometry, letting the quality of the objects shine through in an immediate and unequivocal manner, Leirner is able to suggest narratives and associations that go beyond the objective minimalism of their components.
At the entrance of the Gallery, Silver Randy’s (regular size) deconstructs and then reconstructs the reiteration and rituality of the action of rolling a cigarette, instantly alluding to repetition, the drawing out of time, pleasure and addiction, and the burning and rapid consumption of cigarettes in the intangibility and flimsy monochromatic insubstantiality of the paper fluttering as the visitors go by.
The artist has a particular interest in categories of materials for industrial production that can be found in hardware stores, in which chains, shackles, hooks, cables, tubes, washers, rolls of adhesive tape and other objects are an alphabet to be used for free compositions. They trace lines in the space where the elements are trapped at irregular intervals, or they form simple, rigid, or organically geometric curved shapes, sometimes on the wall, sometimes on the floor or intersecting the volumes of the rooms they are in.
Appreciated for the fact that they are easy to find, always within reach, and immediately recognisable by anyone, these materials become the ideal basis for building up different narratives. This can be done, for example, by working on the dualism expressed by the conflicting forces of lightness and gravity, associations between male and female, blunt aggressiveness opposed to gracefulness, softness to rigidity, or the ability to counterbalance weight and measure.
A careful selection of works on canvas and watercolours on paper focuses on the pure visibility of colour, on its evanescence and chromatic interpenetration. It does so in a way that is only apparently removed from the issues tackled in the three-dimensional works, for it actually reveals the same approach and pursues the same objectives, by superimposing totally free narrative associations linked to the human values of perception and experience upon an only apparent geometrical impersonality and objectivity.
Jac Leirner (São Paulo, 1961) lives and works in São Paulo. His most recent solo exhibitions include Institutional Ghost, IMMA (Dublin, 2017), Add it up, The Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh, 2017), Borders are drawn by hand, MoCA Shanghai (Shanghai, 2016), Funciones de una variable, Museo Tamayo (Mexico City, 2014), Pesos y Medidas, CAAM (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2014), Hardware Silk, Yale School of Art (New Haven, 2012), and Jac Leirner, Estação Pinacoteca (São Paulo, 2011). He has also taken part in a number of biennial events: the Sharjah Biennial (2015), Istanbul Biennial (2011), Venice Biennale (1997, 1990), Documenta IX in Kassel (1992), and Bienal de São Paulo (1989, 1983). His work is now in many important collections around the world, including: Tate Modern (London), MoMA (New York), Guggenheim (New York), MOCA (Los Angeles), Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh), MAM (São Paulo), Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo), and Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid).