Armando Andrade Tudela

FRAC Bourgogne

The stereograph was first popularized in the mid-nineteenth century as a device for “parlor travel,” a way to see the world’s exotic sites in 3-D from the comfort of one’s home. Figuratively speaking, however, stereoscopy—the juxtaposition of two perspectives that, viewed together, create an impression of depth—has always been the domain of the émigré, a class to which the Peruvian-born, Berlin- and St. Etienne–based artist Armando Andrade Tudela belongs. His exhibition at the frac Bourgogne came equipped with room-size View-Masters—again, figuratively speaking: two ad hoc walls staggered in the space, which transformed the exhibition into a vivid series of skewed perspectives.

Andrade Tudela’s work surveys the transposition of South American culture into the occidental landscape and back again, with syncretisms ranging from rattan kitsch to Caetano Veloso to modernist motifs in industrial logos emblazoned on tractor-trailers. His latest exhibition presented a leap forward by stepping back from the more anecdotal aspects of these projects. This time, Andrade Tudela broadly invoked a trope of tropical modernism: the rendering of modernist universal aesthetics in specific, corporeal terms. Thus this exhibition, while austere at first glance, was full of sensual detail and activated by a playful engagement with scale. The giant leaning panes of colored glass in Untitled (4 Glasses) (all works 2010) multiply your reflection as if guiding it through Hélio Oiticica’s Grande núcleo, 1960–66, while Inverted Hammock, a hammock slung across a metal arc, seems improbably to cradle the very weight that supports it. At one end of the room was Untitled, two triangular frames hanging vertex to vertex. Inside them, blank segments of foam board highlight the frames’ only difference: unpolished glass in one that subtly dims the board beneath. Andrade Tudela has exactingly removed the molding around the bottom triangle so that both frames hang flush against the wall. This tender scrupulousness sets the artist’s work apart from any effete contemporary formalism: Neat as they are, Andrade Tudela’s sculptures insist on being objectlike. Such is the case with the two chipboard plinths of Untitled (W. Balzer Konditorei Bäckerei) #1 and #2: Topped only with sheets of bakery paper under glass, these socles without sculptures are too large to suppress the painterly exuberance of the chipboard’s fibrous abstractions.

Eclipsed from the entranceway by one of Andrade Tudela’s partitions are nine boxlike structures. SESC references the São Paulo cultural center designed between 1977 and 1982 by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. The spartan armchairs she created for the SESC—triangular seats inserted in the right angle of two boards—were reproduced here on a larger scale and variously oriented in a row as if enacting some esoteric semaphore. The warm ambiguity of Donald Judd’s furniture or Scott Burton’s sculpture comes to mind, but so do Sherrie Levine’s renditions of Gerrit Rietveld’s Krate tables, which in recontextualizing the modernist design evacuate its utility through the implacable expropriations of the art world—expropriations currently directed vigorously at the history of South American art and Tropicália. In reading Andrade Tudela’s work at the intersection of these two references we may find a good indicator of the nuance he commands, a kind of stereoscopic vision in itself: one eye trained on the codification of an aesthetic and social history, and the other on its emancipation.

Joanna Fiduccia