Born in Lisbon in 1956, Pedro Cabrita Reis is one of the leading Portuguese artists of his generation. This exhibition will be his first presentation in a German museum since 1996. Cabrita Reis has exhibited widely and participated in numerous international exhibitions, including documenta IX in 1992; in 2003 he represented Portugal at the Venice Biennale. Currently, he is participating in the 10th Lyon Biennale with two large works. In the most comprehensive show by the artist to date, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is presenting around sixty sculptures, including several large-scale pieces, paintings, drawings and photographs from 1985 to 2009, covering the entire basement floor of the Galerie der Gegenwart.
Since the early 1990s, Cabrita Reis’s work has revolved around the themes of housing, habitation, construction and territory. Along with artworks based on elements of everyday life, such as tables and chairs or doors and windows, he often creates expansive installations that fill the exhibition spaces with both complex and imposing structures. He counters the classic white cube with his use of massive brick walls, found objects and industrial materials such as neon tubes, steel girders or rough wooden planks.
Pedro Cabrita Reis is a keen collector, both of the flotsam of civilization and of sensory impressions. For him, discarded everyday objects are just as welcome finds as the panorama of an abandoned building site or an old olive tree. Like retinal afterimages, such visual stimuli plant the seed of an idea for one of his melancholic-archaic sculptures or for a new painting. In his work, Cabrita Reis repeatedly addresses fundamental issues of art; he explores the concepts of painting and sculpture and develops sculptural methods of drawing in space. While Cabrita Reis’s rugged walls and the cardboard sheds held together with adhesive tape might at first glance seem to refer to social realities outside the realm of art, they are not bound up with these realities, nor do they attempt to duplicate them; instead, they transform them into intriguing and sometimes quite literally opaque artworks. Wherever windows appear in Cabrita Reis’s installations, they are invariably blind, boarded up or painted over, the doors to his dwellings are inaccessible. Cidades Cegas (Blind Cities) is the title of a group of works whose stoically melancholic appearance alludes to the Unbehaustheit (‘homelessness’) of man as a basic constant of the human condition – one of the leitmotifs in Cabrita Reis’s oeuvre.
In addition to works on loan from major museums and private collections, the exhibition features new works that have been developed especially for the Hamburger Kunsthalle. After premiering in Hamburg, it will travel to the Carré d’Art in Nîmes and the Museu Colecção Berardo in Lisbon. It is the first exhibition of the new curator of the Galerie der Gegenwart, Sabrina van der Ley, in the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
A comprehensive catalogue with 200 colour illustrations has been published to accompany the exhibition and features amongst other texts by António Lobo Antunes, Dieter Schwarz and Pedro Cabrita Reis.
Curated by Sabrina van der Ley