Sonia Gomes joins Pace Gallery
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Sonia Gomes joins Pace Gallery
Sonia Gomes. Photograph by Ana Pigosso.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pace Gallery announced that São Paulo-based artist Sonia Gomes has joined its roster of leading international artists. Gomes, originally from the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, combines secondhand textiles with everyday materials, such as furniture, driftwood, and wire, to create abstract sculptures that reclaim Afro-Brazilian traditions and feminized crafts from the margins of history. “My work is black, it is feminine, and it is marginal. I am a rebel,” affirms Gomes, adding, “I never worried about masking or stifling anything that might or might not fit standards of what is called art.”

Pace will represent Gomes in the US and Asia and will bring her art to its established audiences in both territories, working in close collaboration with Mendes Wood DM, who has represented her for over a decade, and Blum & Poe.

Gomes first gained international recognition when the late curator Okwui Enwezor included her work in the 2015 Venice Biennale. Largely self-taught, she is now widely celebrated for her work and has become a barrier-breaking figure as the first living Afro-Brazilian woman artist to have a monographic show at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), in 2018. As exemplified by the gallery’s support of Robert Rauschenberg, Sam Gilliam and Lynda Benglis, among others, Pace has been a staunch advocate of artists who devised unique visual languages by going against the grain of dominant artistic styles and ideas. Gomes’s resolve to create highly innovative, mixed-media works in defiance of artistic conventions and social barriers positions her firmly within the gallery’s history, while pointing to the connections and parallels between this legacy and art practices in Brazil.

Marc Glimcher, President & CEO, Pace Gallery, shares: “We are thrilled that Sonia Gomes will be joining Pace. Adam Sheffer, our Vice President, is working closely with our colleagues at Mendes Wood DM to create an exhibition plan to bring Sonia’s unique work to our audiences around the world. The talismanic power of her construction, collages and sculpture derives from Sonia’s graceful melding of her rich Afro-Brazilian histories and traditions with potentialities of modern sculpture. It is a profound honor to welcome her to the gallery. It is also a great pleasure to be collaborating with our friends Pedro, Matthew and Felipe who have been working with Sonia for many years and will continue to head up the effort, as well as joining Blum & Poe to expand the appreciation of Sonia’s work in the US and Asia.”

Adam Sheffer, Vice President, Pace Gallery comments: “Sonia Gomes has a unique ability to turn a variety of materials into an indivisible, poetic whole that transcends its parts. Her masterful process of integration is not only formal but also intellectual. Gomes’s work has the rare capacity to synthesize and distill her wide-ranging interests in literature, philosophy, and history, as seen, for instance, with her recent sculptures whose incorporation of bird cages alludes to the poetry of Maya Angelou in a profound and urgent meditation on freedom.”

Juxtaposing tensile and slack forms, Gomes’s contorted sculptures exude a corporeality and dynamism that she attributes to her love of popular Brazilian dances. At the same time, her work’s vitality evokes the enigmatic animism of sacred objects used in the spiritual practices of Brazil’s African diaspora—rites that the artist witnessed her grandmother, a shaman, perform during her childhood. Born in the Brazilian city of Caetanópolis, a once-important manufacturing center for textiles, Gomes uses found or gifted fabrics, which, according to her, “bring the history of the people that they belonged to.” “I give a new significance to them,” she adds. Her assemblages thus tie Brazil’s historical trajectory to the long-disregarded narratives of women, people of color, and countless anonymous individuals.

Through its recycling of used fabric, Gomes’s work also evinces a principle of thrift that is both a consequence of Brazil’s rapid and uneven industrial development and a dissenting answer to its accompanying culture of wasteful consumption and environmental destruction. As a whole, her art is marked by a decolonizing impulse, providing oblique responses to the social inequities and ecological urgencies of present-day Brazil and, more broadly, a globalized world.

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