João Penalva at Kunsthallen Brandts
Works with Texts and Images
2 March–28 May 2012
Brandts Torv 1
Kunsthallen Brandts is exhibiting for the first time in Denmark the work of London-based, Portuguese artist João Penalva. Drawing from the artist’s text-based works in various media from the last thirteen years, the exhibition presents four large installations and five films.
Arcade (2001) is a collection of hundreds of the artist’s own photographs of buildings and urban spaces, accompanied by texts that are either label-like or have intricate narratives. Comprising of two facing thirty metre-long walls, the work’s monumental scale places the viewer as a stroller in an arcade-like passageway.
Addressing the Weeds in Hiroshima (1997) gathers photographs, texts, and a herbarium of weeds that grew on the concrete ground of a factory in Hiroshima that survived the atomic bomb blast. Penalva installed in situ short texts addressed to each plant, explaining what makes us and them so different.
The Hair of Mr Ruskin (1997) shows a framed lock of John Ruskin’s hair and seven forgeries by the artist, without identifying the real one. Originality, copy and forgery, and the system of belief surrounding these notions are juxtaposed with documentation of the actual theft of one of these frames when on exhibition loan to the Courtauld Institute, in London, and its recovery by the police.
Pavlina and Dr. Erlenmeyer (2010) is a two-part installation where one serves as a foyer to the large projection of a supposedly “found, scientific film” of a clothes moth in the other. Alternating between the life and work of the nineteenth-century chemist Dr Emil Erlenmeyer, who developed naphthalene, and Pavlina, an entomologist recounting one of her dreams of insects, the work is a magic, theatrical experience — dark, humorous, absurd and eerie.
João Penalva’s films are often described as dream-like experiences where the image and sound seem to belong to different realms that only the viewer’s will can reconcile. In a reversal from subtitling as one knows it, the original English texts by the artist become subtitles to their spoken translation in other languages.
Film screenings at Cafébiografen, Brandts Passage 39-41, at 12.30 pm.
336 PEK (336 Rivers), 1999, Russian, English subtitles, 60’46”.
4 March and 6 May.
Kitsune (The fox’s Spirit), 2001, Japanese, English subtitles, 55’30″.
11 March and 13 May.
A harangozó (The Bell-Ringer), 2005, Hungarian, English subtitles, 55’30″.
18 March and 20 May.
The White Nightingale, 2005, Italian, English subtitles, 42′.
25 March and 27 May.
The roar of lions, 2006, Mandarin, English subtitles, 37′.
1 April and 28 May.
João Penalva was born in Lisbon in 1949 and has lived and worked in London since 1976. Solo exhibitions include Camden Arts Centre, London; The Power Plant, Toronto; Serralves Museum, Oporto; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Lunds Konsthall, Lund; CAM — Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon.
He represented Portugal in the Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, 1996, and the Biennale di Venezia, 2001, and exhibited in the Berlin Biennale 2, 2001, and the Biennale of Sydney, 2002.
João Penalva was awarded the DAAD Berlin Artist’s Residency in 2003. He has been a Guest Lecturer at the Malmö Art Academy since 2001.
The exhibition João Penalva — Works with texts and Images was conceived in cooperation with CAM — Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon.
An extensive, richly illustrated catalogue, presenting text-based works by João Penalva from the last twenty years is available from Brandts Shop, 433 pages.
Isabel Carlos, Director of CAM — Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, will be opening the exhibition on 1 March at 5 pm. The artist will be present.