Prompted by the presentation of the BACA Award to the Brazilian artist Laura Lima, in cooperation with Van Eyck, the museum is exhibiting the work of two young artists who also originate from Latin America: Jonathas de Andrade and ex-Van Eyck resident Rodrigo Hernández.
Jonathas de Andrade: 40 Nego Bom é um real
n the work 40 Nego Bom é um real, the young Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade tells the story of a sweet. Based on the production process of this nego bom (the name literally means ‘good black’ and has racial connotations), he shows how in the social, political and ideological reality of Brazilian society, difficult issues are preferably ‘forgotten’. His work is based on a variety of historical documentary material.
The installation is inspired by a street vendor promoting his banana sweets at the top of his voice. Like an anthropologist, the artist sketches a fictive sweet factory with forty workers. The work is divided into two parts. Colourful silk prints and paintings on board show people working in apparent harmony on the production of the sweet. The second part consists of pictures of individual workers. The accompanying texts show a less good-humoured picture and expose the false working relationships. Andrade subtly reveals a racism that is deeply rooted in Brazilian culture. Underneath, this plays a big role in social dynamics and power relations that are often based on camaraderie and politeness.
Andrade based his story and visual idiom on an influential book written in 1933 by the Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre. In Casa Grande e Senzala (The Master and the Slave), Freire describes and illustrates the relationships between colonisers, slaves and Indians in the light of the Brazilian melting pot. This theory is still a leading one today, although it is also controversial, as it ‘glosses over’ what in fact is a perverse democracy founded on racism.
Rodrigo Hernández: What is the moon?
Originally, Rodrigo Hernández studied history and philosophy, but art called and he went to an academy in Mexico, an academy in the German town of Karlsruhe and the Van Eyck Academy, respectively. Last summer, he left Maastricht for a working period to Basel, invited by the Laurenz-Haus Stiftung. There he has continued studying Dadaism and Surrealism. The lively anarchism and liberating passion for experiment involved in these historic movements are a continual source of inspiration to him.
The striking focal point in the atmospheric yet unfathomable installation developed by Hernández for the Bonnefanten is a stylised human figure. Stripped of individual features, he appears to stand for ‘the humane’. The relationship between this figure and the other parts of the installation is not immediately clear. The title of the installation, What is the moon?, seems to be an invitation to set the process of associative thinking in motion.
The crux of the work is an indiscernible drawing, based on a yantra, which is dissolved around the exhibition space. A yantra is a geometrical composition that serves as a symbol for inner states of human consciousness. Hernández has constructed his installation around this unreachable position, like a sort of all-seeing eye, and it is only from the yantra that the work discloses its coherence. Hernández invites the viewers to set their sight in motion and to start puzzling.
The suggestion that this sort of imaginary movement creates new images is close to the train of thought of the Surrealist predecessors so avidly studied by Hernández. The work was prompted by a statement from the Belgian Surrealist René Magritte: «An object can make one think that there are other objects behind it». Incidentally, you can see an illustration of the yantra in the publication compiled by Hernández in collaboration with the graphic workshop of the Van Eyck Academy.