Carlito Carvalhosa’s works, similar to early Renaissance church paintings, have the potential to make viewers feel equally enclosed and daunted by scale. The artist’s installations look upon the viewers, asking their submission and surrender towards their magnitude in structure and constructive. Utilizing a broad range of materials in conjunction with his work’s scale and size, Carvalhosa’s practice includes wood, plaster, wax or glass in forms that seem challenging or exceedingly fragile to execute. It’s this delicately immense style that Sonnabend Gallery is currently presenting with Possibility Matters, a two-room installation transforming wood columns into a room-sized piece in Carvalhosa’s hands.
Carlito Carvalhosa, Possibility Matters (detail), 2014
Both two rooms see floors covered with fluorescent lights and overshadowed by giant wooden shafts, limiting the space into a certain structure. Similar to Sala de Espera, the rigidness and the strength of the wooden poles captivate the space while blocking the freedom to move. The dominance of these wooden poles, however, depend on the notably fragile drinking glasses that they stand on. The paradox between the wood and the glass as two opposing materials demonstrate the artist’s concern beyond their roles as a crux of metaphor, but rather the actual ideas themselves, the playing out of fragility and mass in real space.
The work bears striking similarity to one of Carvalhosa’s works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sao Paolo last year, where he presented Sala de Espera (Waiting Room). Carvalhosa covered the sixty year old building with one element: wood. Among the brick and mortar white columns supporting the building, he placed eighty used telephone poles, each thirty to forty feet in length. Interpretable in various ways, the work was a salute to obstacles present in the flow of everyday life, magnified to block the building and the viewers’ paths. Similarly, Carvalhosa’s Sum of Days, in which the artist covered a floor of MoMA with transparent cloth hanging from the ceiling down to the floor, orchestrated a constantly shifting labyrinth to maneuver around. Possibility Matters takes Carvalhosa’s approach to daily objects into a different realm, charging his pieces with a kinetic risk of a fall or collapse that stems from the fluidity of the artist’s arrangement. Delivering an uncomfortable possibility of systemic breakdown, Carvalhosa’s installation, similar to his other previous works, transfers a tension from not knowing if the structure will sustain itself or fail, when a shift in states will take place, or even how it may happen.
Carlito Carvalhosa: Possibility Matters is on view at Sonnabend Gallery through July 26, 2014.
— O.C. Yerebakan
*All images by Osman Can Yerebakan for Art Observed
Sonnabend Gallery [Exhibition Page]