Press Release of the Exhibition
Sep 2nd > Oct 10th 2009
We have nothing of our own
By those who have nowhere
Anon. Graffiti on a wall in Lisbon
As a whole, we might term the works by Yonamine (b. 1975) as diaries or even archaeologies. On time, on the past and the present (on the re-invented, re-updated), on life. His and that of the world. The title chosen for this exhibition is perhaps so significant due to this fact. Control Z is a computer language that allows one to “undo” or go back, but here it almost becomes a manifesto about the accumulating of experiences from which we can truly take a lesson.
In this exhibition now on show at the Cristina Guerra Gallery we see a momentary crystallisation of this ephemeral set of references, from the history of art, covering politics and the artist’s everyday life, which allow us to reflect, through his “aesthetics of proposal” on a set of current and past concerns that we may consider to be eternal. In this manner there is an attempt to stand up to forgetfulness. As is shown in (I shoot can, 2009) the spiral, impressionist movement of the artist’s footprints serves to remind us that we are all in the crosshairs. The way he constructs the work (in puzzle) and its process of accumulation and random fragmentation, almost surrealist, can tell us a great deal about how today we all are fragmented identities, broken mirrors. Ongoing, flowing, frail identities, subjected to several different types of violence.
In his modus operandi Yonamine proposes a universe that coincides more with the authentic aspect of life, going against the most machine-like and homogenous view of a world that nowadays one wants to be “hygienic” and perfect. As is shown by some of the symbols in his works, here it is forbidden to wash, iron or tidy up. Unlike other artists we may evoke here, like Basquiat, the whole process here is, however, drawn up within a greatly humorous Pop language. As if laughter, in its derisory understanding, were the best weapon of catharsis. Perhaps this is why he invites us to chill out on sandbags that remind us of the beach on which (peacefully or not) George W. Bush socializes with the picture of the Kinguilas (women who change money in the streets).
This ambivalence between the serious and the playful provokes interpretative short-circuits in the spectator, as this installation can also be likened to a treacherous trench in which we are all invited to share the above-mentioned guilt over our fatal and inevitable humanity. It is also a reference to our capacity for opting between an exercise in reflection and a form of pure contemplation.
Yonamine brings together a set of situations that oscillate between a past, a present and a possible future, offering a concept of time that escapes limitation. Like in the language of Reggae DJs, in his work we may think about the concept of rewinding, and at the same time we are located within today. The evoking of his past is done in several different ways, form African tradition (as can be seen in the reference to the drawings in the sand by the Quiocos from Northwest Angola) to the memories of Angola with a search for a type of blue (Kind of Blue, 2009), in the style of Yves Klein, inspired by the different “personalized” tones used on the kandongueiros (taxis), or also through the use of old photographs taken from newspapers found in the Lisbon Feira da Ladra flea market. He gives these a new life in a new context.
In High Tech Retro, 2009, we find another manner of re-updating. The “Last Supper”, painted by Da Vinci, simultaneously serves as a springboard for a reflection on the history of art revisited and as a “political” and ironic commentary in telling us about the current financial crisis, which has in fact existed since 1975, when our “messianic” hegemony starts to crumble, among other factors, through Angolan independence. The flies on the canvas thus verify the stating of a certain parasitical mentality that is present to this day in Portuguese culture.
All this is saying little about such a rich and complex world that this artist’s work becomes. His canvases, just like this text, need “physical” yet not necessarily limiting containment. Through his vast and labyrinthine set of subjects and forms, Yonamine grants us the possibility of travelling beyond the physical space of the canvas. “If I weren’t a painter, I would be a writer, or even a musician … That’s it … For me it’s all about communication”.
Impossible to do CONTROL Z… Just as well.
Carla de Utra Mendes
CONTROL Z is slow, sliding over the natural disorder of things until it
weaves and waits, and we want slow sliding on the unnatural order of things,
because thinking hurts.