Bruno Miguel (1981) trained as a painter in his native Brazil – however, that might not be your first thought walking through his show at Sapar Contemporary. Not content with the two-dimensional plane, Miguel uses everything except canvas as a platform for his colors. Rather than painting horizontally, he unpacks the elements of a painting, then stacks them vertically – almost as if he were painting in three dimensions. Through his mixing of traditional, luxury, quotidian, festive and personal elements, the artist creates an opportunity for new narratives.
As you enter the gallery, your eye will be caught by Fé (Faith) from the series Sala de Jantar (Dining Room) (2013), which takes up the better part of the wall. As you approach this cross-shaped sculpture, you’ll see that it is made from antique porcelain and earthenware plates. Look closer, and you’ll see that they’ve all been manipulated by the artist in some way –
sometimes he painted over them, or he painted designs on them, or he put down several layers of paint, covered them with masking tape, and then cut into the tape or reshaped it.
If you look to the left, however, you’ll find two works that take you into the artists’ personal life while simultaneously reflecting on the history of immigration in Brazil. In the front window is Cafezinho? (Coffee?) (2014), a collection of 31 small coffee mugs, used by his mother to serve coffee to her guests, especially when she had Tupperware parties. By filling these cups with brightly colored – indeed Carnival colored – resins, the artist seems to be linking his mother’s identity as an immigrant with his identity as a first-generation Brazilian (his mother was from Mozambique and father from Portugal).
Nearby you’ll find Todas as cores (All Colors) (2014), three shot glasses which belonged to his father, who was an alcoholic. By filling them with bright resins, the artist is rewriting his history, without judgement, and linking it to his artistic practice.
In the rear of the gallery, on the floor, you’ll find Essas Pessoas na Sala de Jantar (Those People In the Dining Room) (2012–2015), a riot of whimsical sculptures of tropical trees and fantastical islands/creatures that might bring to mind Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince; when you look closer, you’ll notice that these islands/creatures seem to be simultaneously swallowing and spouting antique porcelain cups and saucers. For the artist, porcelain reminds him of dinner conversations, and he uses it as a way of inviting dialogue with the viewer. With these works, Miguel plays these traditional, serious tea sets (which he purchased at auction) against the bright, playful Carnival materials that engulf them, inviting the viewer to consider how history is absorbed and presented.
On the lower level you’ll find work in a completely different style: four neo-concrete totems, that were made from actual New York City parking signs (who hasn’t wanted to paint over them?) This one, New Neoconcrete #8 is dedicated to the Brazilian Neo-Concrete artist Hélio Oiticica.
This is only a small selection of the work you’ll find in Bruno Miguel: Seduction and Reason, which is on only until November 5th. So get over to Sapar Contemporary Gallery, 9 North Moore Street in Tribeca soon!