Curated by Pauline Foessel & Alexandre Farto aka Vhils
Opening: 31.01 — 21h30
Participating artists: ±MaisMenos± | Add Fuel | AkaCorleone | André da Loba | Estúdio Pedrita | Mário Belém | Teresa Esgaio | Wasted Rita
Underdogs Gallery is pleased to announce the group show “From Lisboa to the World”, now with an itinerant character, at Maus Hábitos, in Porto. Inaugurating the “Outros Portos” cycle that will take place in the cultural venue during the 2020-21 biennium, the show brings together a set of unique pieces, in a variety of media and formats, by a fine selection of Portuguese artists.
Bringing together a representative group of Portuguese artists with whom Underdogs Gallery has been working during its six years of activity, “From Lisboa to the World” acts as a national complement to the group show “From the World, Made in Lisboa” presented in April 2019, whose focus fell on the international artists who have visited and worked in Lisbon in the scope of its exhibitions programme.
Like their international counterparts, this new generation of Portuguese artists – who have developed and matured their voices here in direct interaction with the city and its public –, also reflects a diverse and multidisciplinary universe of authorial visions, projecting from Lisbon a heterogeneous set of perspectives and proposals with a global dimension, thus effectively materialising Underdogs' purpose and mission.
If, also in similarity to the international artists, the work of these Portuguese artists conveys different interests, concerns, and objectives, the ensemble of languages presented here also contains elements that are transversal and/or tangential that bring them together, establishing between them a dialoguing condition. The oeuvres of Add Fuel and Pedrita Studio, despite their formal and conceptual differences, share approaches that seek to combine elements of the traditional visual and decorative culture – in particular artistic or industrial tile work – with contemporary production processes, reinterpreting and revitalising an entire wealth of Portuguese material culture. Mário Belém also shares with them something of this interest in Portuguese cultural heritage, especially in regard to the folk wisdom of traditional proverbs and sayings. Bringing popular visual culture and contemporary visual culture closer together, his oeuvre has equally explored the paradox of communication breakdowns in an era when information reigns supreme yet suffers from its own excess, a subject which has also been the target of the reflection that AkaCorleone has been developing in the course of a markedly cathartic and personal practice. If the work of these two artists is differentiated by contrasting languages, they draw closer, conversely, through a shared interest in the graphic universe of visual communication, revealing a fascination for the juxtaposition and dialogue between visual representation and the written word.
Working in a very different way with the written word, yet similarly committed to reflecting on contemporary popular culture through an intensely intimate, critical and, as in the case of AkaCorleone, cathartic narrative, Wasted Rita has been establishing an openly confessional complicity with the viewer, pouring forth radical and incisive proposals of a scenic and performative nature on, like she herself mordantly describes, “this pretty little thing we call society.” Despite the evident authorial and stylistic differences that separate them, the ±MaisMenos± project by the artist Miguel Januário also shares a critical approach to the present-day world, albeit conveyed through a manifestly activist perspective that confronts us with incisive reflections in face of the asymmetries and debilitating contradictions present in the model of political, social, and economic organisation that gives shape to contemporary societies.
Seeking to explore a very different social dimension through visual exercises that offer us an open narrative, André da Loba, in turn, invites the viewers to let themselves be carried by the interpretative possibilities contained in the elements he presents, in order for us to compose, in either an intuitive or pondered way, our own stories. If his oeuvre is clearly based on a fertile poetic imagination, the oeuvre of Teresa Esgaio, despite all of its evident realism, also drinks from a fertile poetics of the imagination. Working the delicate contrast between light and shadow, the artist's hand gives shape to meticulous and richly textural drawings created with recourse to dry pastel and graphite – a lengthy, demanding, and exhaustive process through which she portrays everything that captures her attention in a clear sublimation of the timeless pictorial gesture in the digital era.
Celebrating, in short, the vitality and the heterogeneous wealth that differentiates this set of artistic practices, as well as the various thematic elements and approaches that bring them close together, “From Lisboa to the World” takes stock of Underdogs Gallery's activity in its Portuguese dimension, yet also conveys a sample of the current state of urban-inspired contemporary art in the global era. From Lisbon to the rest of the world.