Jonathas de Andrade, «Jogos. Atos. Gestos»

GALLERIA CONTINUA is delighted to present the artist’s first solo exhibition at Galleria Continua in France, displayed at both gallery spaces in Paris and Les Moulins.

Conceived as one exhibition in two chapters, Jogos. Atos. Gestos. gathers and catalogues images, texts, life stories and material on architecture, and through memory, pieces together a personal narrative with the past. A playful and only apparently light-hearted approach allows de Andrade to give voice to the marginal Brazilian communities and minorities. His work is reinforced by the support of local communities, with which he establishes a respectful collaboration. Through the games, actions and gestures that he finds there, the artist reflects on social dynamics, memory and modernity.

Following up on his outstanding participations in the current Venice Biennale, being the artist of the Brazilian Pavilion curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, as well as the artist’s first survey exhibition in Europe, Eye—Spark at CRAC Alsace, and collective exhibitions at Biennale de Lyon (Meanwhile… Suddenly, and Then, 2013), Palais de Tokyo (Ubuntu, un rêve lucide, 2021) and Centre George Pompidou- Metz (L’art d’apprendre, 2022), Jonathas de Andrade profoundly explores the panorama of his native country and investigates the themes of inequality and injustice, power relations and economic geography.

We are introduced to this at GALLERIA CONTINUA/ Les Moulins, with the installation Heroínas de Tejucupapo (Heroines of Tejucupapo) which is held on the Mezzanine. The work was commissioned to Jonathas de Andrade on the occasion of his solo show at FOAM Amsterdam, held in Spring 2022. The project is a collaboration with the Teatro das Heroinas de Tejucupapo (Tejucupapo Heroins Teather), which for 30 years has been staging the 1646 historical battle of Tejucupapo in Pernambuco, Brazil, where the women of the village fended off an army of Dutch soldiers, using sticks, pots, boiling water, and everything in their hands as weapons. The extensive inventory shows the objects used and tells us about the daily struggle – symbolic and material – that is crossed in the history of these objects. The playful aspect of the work comes from the protagonists being actors, this has an undercurrent of resistance as we remember the heroic act of defense associated with this event.

The Tejucupapo Heroins Teather keeps alive the flame of the struggle against oppression and the defense of the land, taking the perspective of these women – particularly the tradition of black and indigenous women – and inspiring other social struggles fought in the tense local Brazilian political context.

At GALLERIA CONTINUA/Paris, de Andrade shares the plight of another marginalised community in Fome de Resistência (Hunger of Resistance), a work that makes use of historical and obsolete maps of the Brazilian army to expand on the work of the geographer, nutritionist and hunger activist Josué de Castro, and to trace other forms of hunger. The project takes place in collaboration with Kayapó women from the indigenous Pukany community, who live in the Menkragnoti territory in southern Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon. The traditional ancestral graphics handmade by the Kayapó women ignore and transcend map boundaries, making visible the contested nature of this territory, where an increasing number of attacks triggered by recent government policies threaten the security and existence of these ancestral lands. Photographs of each painter’s hands show the women who made the work, bringing together a collective gesture of resistance.

The artist’s propensity for storytelling is re-proposed to us through the film Olho da Rua (Out Loud). Performed by a cast of 100 people, it is divided into eight acts and presents performance proposals in front of the camera as exercises of the gaze. Simple actions are presented, such as looking at oneself and admiring oneself in front of a mirror; improvising an assembly and saying messages to the camera; representing a collective feast by making the public square a large stage; or facing the camera lens, which is the eye of the viewer, whether in the street or on the cinema screen. Made in two days in Praça do Hipódromo, Recife, the film features a cast of homeless people, linked to public shelters and non-governmental initiatives to support the vulnerable population.

This bi-location exhibition follows the stories of people profoundly affected by current and historical power dynamics in society. Through his work, Jonathas de Andrade creates spaces in which we can interact with, absorb and listen to these narratives and experiences through common and shared aspects of humanity like play, actions and gestures.

On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition, on Thursday 30 June, GALLERIA CONTINUA/Paris organises the conference “With the heart coming out of the mouth” with Jonathas de Andrade and the curator of the Brazilian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale Jacopo Crivelli Visconti.