São Paulo

View of “f. marquespenteado,” 2013.

View of “f. marquespenteado,” 2013.

f. marquespenteado

Mendes Wood DM | São Paulo

View of “f. marquespenteado,” 2013.

Wooden boards (similar to those used in temporary construction sites), some painted pink, were placed over the white walls of the gallery, creating a uniform base for the works included in f. marquespenteado’s recent exhibition “Denominador Comum” (Common Denominator). This artist’s work takes in, welcomes, and renews objects that have been abandoned or rejected (as a function of the logic of accelerated turnover of consumption) or that were bequeathed to us as legacies of experience we cannot share. He is particularly drawn to the world of textiles, to activities such as sewing, darning, weaving, dyeing, and so on—practices involving manual labor that is intense, artisanal, and sometimes anachronistic in terms of present-day demands of productivity. These are modes often considered “minor” and linked to the feminine, domestic, “poor,” “not modern.”

Humble objects that we might find in the street, in the garbage, or in the attics of those no longer with us are the materials used in many of marquespenteado’s works. O descanso da guerreira (Warrior’s Rest), 2003/2012, combines a Formica chair and a small embroidered pillow. Refúgio distante (Distant Refuge), 2012, brings together sponges, images of castles and old country houses, book covers, rock salt, shells, and pottery. A cutlery box, found in the trash and displaying all the painstaking workmanship of traditional cabinetmaking, houses silks and hand-embroidered PVC (Sala de jantar [Dining Room], 2011). On the table holding these works, a wall clock was frozen in time (Tempo suspenso às 10.32 [Time Stopped at 10:32], 2011).

Handkerchiefs the artist inherited from his mother and a huge collection of hand embroidery received from a woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s are among the materials used in the composition of the most salient textiles in this exhibition. The series “‘Malaise’ neo-concretista” (Neoconcretist “Malaise”), 2011—linens, cottons, and wools embroidered on industrial felt—alludes to the tradition of geometrical abstraction, proceeding to a subversion and inversion of its values: Flatness gives way to the sensuality and density of the materials, rigid delineation of forms to the hesitation and imperfection of the weaves, the immaculate uniformity of colors to the accidents and nuances of hand-tinting. Geometry yields to the sensitive depiction of skin, fingers, and hands.

Beyond textiles and other readymades, painting also had its place in the exhibition. In the series “Desenho Pivotante” (Dust Jackets), 2004, the artist represents, on the backs of old book covers, figures and situations inspired solely by reading the summary of the book on its flaps: Each unknown story opens the possibility of multiple other stories. But whether dealing with modest, discarded items or beautiful handkerchiefs and needlework that are the product of hundreds of hours of meticulous labor but that no one wants any longer, the artist’s goal is to restore the value to feelings associated with that which was rejected, to give a home to what was abandoned and excluded. The “common denominator” that concerns him is the mark of the human condition that we share with others and with everything we touch. Perhaps that’s why marquespenteado writes his name without capital letters and without any identification of sex: to be in the midst of others in a state of complete equality.

Alexandre Melo

Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers.