Summer Night is the new show by José Damasceno at Millan. For his second solo show at the gallery, the artist presents works in which he reflects on the construction of images and the oneiric.
Comprised entirely of new works, featuring tapestries, sculptures, paintings, and installations, Summer Night brings together the most recent developments in the artist’s tireless research. Borrowing from the show’s title, the series of tapestries, Noite de Verão [Summer Night] (2023) has been created by applying patches of textile over pieces of tapestry Damasceno has collected. The superimposition of a reclining, sensualized female figure, typical of mass media, over bucolic and pastoral scenes created in the fabric, establishes a narrative that transcends temporalities and enhances reflections on the meaning of the collage and the way that the artistic canon is incorporated into images produced for a mass audience.
While reinstating the gesture established by Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made and the Dadist notion of objet trouvé, Damasceno’s interest in these objects also ties into his ongoing investigations into the forms and means of the constitution of images and geometry. Constructed over a frame of intercrossing lines, the technique for these tapestries involves weaving references through points and grids, which are familiar references from previous works such as Monitor Crayon, 2012, and Pontinho, 2017, or Geleia óptica, 2023 — created specifically for Summer Night.
Beyond these elements which at times lean closer towards a kitsch aesthetic, the works in this exhibition are formed through geometrical exercises: composed, above all, by the addition or removal of circles and spheres. This is the case in new works Instrumento and Recorte rosa, and even Geleia óptica —made with the elastic taken from jelly jars and nails, forming a type of canvas directly related to the construction of images in tapestries, operating on a scope within the artist’s research as seen in works such as Monitor crayon or Écran/Crayon, 2007, recently acquired by the Tate Modern collection.
An oneiric quality is also present throughout the exhibition in the strangeness provoked by the works and reiterated in the title, Summer Night: a reference to the phenomenon in the extreme northern hemisphere, where, during the hottest period of the year, the sun is visible for almost 24 hours, producing a singular luminosity.
José Damasceno participated in the Venice Biennale in 2005 and 2007, was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Pinacoteca, São Paulo, in 2018, and his works have recently been added to the collection of the Tate Modern, one of the most important institutions of modern and contemporary art in the world. The critical essay accompanying this new exhibition comes from José Thomaz Brum, who has published a range of texts on the artist’s work.