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Stephen Friedman Gallery opens exhibition of works by Tonico Lemos Auad
Installation view. © Tonico Lemos Auad. Courtesy of Tonico Lemos Auad and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

LONDON.- Stephen Friedman Gallery is presenting Brazilian artist Tonico Lemos Auad’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. The artist continues his long-standing exploration of traditional craft by investigating themes of architecture, landscape and human interaction. Through everyday materials such as linen, wool, stone and wood, the viewer is treated to a series of new textile reliefs, sculptures and site-specific installations.

Auad’s unique way of working subverts traditional techniques such as stitch work, woodcarving and stonemasonry and opens up new possibilities in drawing, weaving, sculpture and installation. One can immediately recognise his work for its extraordinary deftness of touch and the way it bridges the modern and contemporary. Through collaborations with a range of specialised makers, Auad explores the crossover between craft, skill, tradition and cultural inheritance.

New textile works in shades of white, red and black begin as small handstitched rectangles, each with a unique combination of stitches and interwoven threads of wool, linen, cotton, paper and silk. Together they become a single, organic patchwork which retains signs of the artist’s hand. This labour-intensive technique creates a rich idiosyncratic surface study.

Accompanying these are a group of geometric crochet works inspired by indigenous face painting, particularly from the Carajás tribe of central Brazil. These works suggest the human form – the larger reliefs echo a torso and the geometric abstractions, a face.

On the floor of one room is a stone and textile installation that combines craft and sculpture in a familiar way. Four limestone plinths of equal dimensions hold several textile pots. Placed together they recall traditional clay coil pots. But Auad’s pots are made from coils of Tunisian stitched multi-coloured yarn. Working intuitively, he carefully determines the site of each pot with the precision and spatial clarity of a meditative landscape – a concept he explored at the 13th Sharjah Biennial in 2017 and the De le Warr Pavilion in 2016.

Running the length of the wall in the same room is a hand-carved wooden structure that suggests a direct spatial relation with the architecture of the room. Facing it is a shelf comprising L-shaped pieces of wooden carved (douglas fir) clasping folded linen. Simply and austerely, they resemble an architectural construction, a book shelf, or even two hands joined together.

On the wall in another room are a body of textile works that suggest remote landscapes with rigorous geometric compositions. Using mostly linen and cotton, they feature the same Tunisian stitch and each work is made from one continuous weave.

At a time of increasing technological automation, Auad celebrates the irregularity of the craftsman’s hand, embracing the everyday poetry of each gesture. And with textile being the constant in his practice, it acts as an interface between human presence and the built environment.

On the occasion of the exhibition the first monograph of the artist’s career to date will be launched at the gallery in March 2018.

In 2016 Auad was the subject of a major solo exhibition at De La Warr Pavilion in East Sussex, UK. Other recent solo exhibitions include; ‘Tonico Lemos Auad’, Pivô, curated by Kiki Mazzuchelli, São Paulo, Brazil (2015), ‘Paisagem Noturna’, Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil (2013); ‘Tonico Lemos Auad’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2012-2013); ‘Figa,’ CRG Gallery, New York, USA (2012); ‘Sleep Walkers,’ Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2011); ‘Epílogo,’ Zapopan Museum, Zapopan, Mexico (2010); ‘Mouth, Ears, Eyes…Just like us,’ Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2009); ‘Silent Singing,’ CRG Gallery, New York, USA (2008); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado, USA (2007).

Group exhibitions include; ‘Soft Power, Arte Brasil’, Kunsthal KAdE, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (2016);’All Heritage is Poetry’, Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Evora, Portugal (2016) ;’What Separates Us’, HS Projects, The Embassy of Brazil, London, England (2016); ‘Drawing Biennial’, Drawing Room, London, England (2015), ‘Warp and woof’, The Hole, New York, USA (2014), ‘A Sense of Things’, Zabludowicz Collection, London, England (2014); ‘Threaded Stories’, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2013); ‘3am: Wonder, Paranoia and the ‘Restless Night’, The Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK; travelling to Chapter, Cardiff, Wales, UK; The Exchange, Penzance, Cornwall, UK; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, UK; ‘Site: Place of Memories, Spaces with Potential,’ Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan (2013); ‘Labour and Wait,’ Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, USA (2013); ‘Além da Vanguarda,’ Bienal Naifs do Brasil, SESC Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil (2012); ‘Mythologies, Cité Internationale des Arts,’ Paris (2011); ‘Undone: Making and Unmaking in Contemporary Sculpture,’ Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2010); ‘Epílogo,’ Museo de Arte Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico (2010; ‘Going International,’ The Flag Art Foundation, New York, USA (2010); ‘Textiles Art and the Social Fabric’, MUHKA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium (2009); ‘Blooming: Brazil-Japan Where you are,’ Toyota Municipal Art Museum, Japan (2008); ‘The British Art Show 06,’ Hayward Gallery touring exhibition, UK (2006).

His work is included in the public collections of the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, New York, USA; San Diego Museum of Art, California, USA; The West Collection, Pennsylvania, USA, Zabludowicz Collection, London, England; Tate Collection, England; The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, USA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Vigo, Spain; Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, USA; Instituto Cultural Inhotim, Brumadinho, MG, Brazil and Pizzuti Collection, Columbia, Ohio, USA.

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