Adriano Costa

Adriano Costa


Adriano Costa, International Division of Labour – 2 (detail), 2014. Mixed media, 50 x 400 x 500 cm. Photo: Peep-Hole 2014.

October 3, 2014

Adriano Costa
La Commedia dell’Arte

26 September–8 November 2014

Via Stilicone 10
20154 Milan
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 2:30–7pm 
or by appointment

T +39 (0) 287067410
T +39 3450774884
info [​at​]

Peep-Hole presents the first solo show in an Italian institution by Adriano Costa.

The research of Adriano Costa moves from the narrative potential of everyday life, that flow of elements composed of common, domestic and leftover objects which he juxtaposes and reassembles in essential compositions, with a strong poetic dimension. Interested in probing the moment in which the object is no longer defined as a work, the Brazilian artist investigates the different aspects of the visible and the nature of materials, combining solidity and fragility and juxtaposing shapes, motifs and colors to create geometric progressions possessing emotional and musical qualities, intuitive and spontaneous, organic and vital rhythms, close in form to the principles of Neo-Concrete and Minimal Art.

The result of gradual adjustments, with a light, random appearance, Costa’s works express, precisely in their delicate formal balance and anti-monumental stance, a critical position regarding the contemporary world.

In the project created for Peep-Hole, titled La Commedia dell’Arte, Adriano Costa develops different works focusing on the theme of invisibility, working conditions in capitalist societies, and the status of objects as commodities, all against the backdrop of the relationships of controversy and colonial exploitation between Europe and the Global South. The title’s reference to the historic form of Italian theater is connected, in particular, to the use of masks, which in the Commedia dell’Arte correspond to definite characters, underlining the pre-set schemes and roles on which those relationships are based. 

The premises behind this project, however, are not of a social or anthropological nature. Instead, they are autobiographical: the starting point, for Costa, is reflection on the art system and his own condition as a Latin American artist working in Europe. In the first room of the exhibition space a small bronze sculpture installed on the wall, similar to a funerary plaque, bears the inscription “Brazilian Wax.” Putting together the Western sculptural tradition and one of the most popular exports of Brazil, depilatory wax, International Division of  Labour – 1 (2014) presents one of the stereotypes of the South American nation in the world, underlining the position of economic and cultural vassalage of Brazil with respect to the West, marked by a tendency to copy Western forms, at the expense of the local tradition. 

International Division of Labour – 2 (2014), the installation that almost entirely occupies the central room of the space, is composed of a platform and a series of counterfeit handbags purchased from street vendors of African origin and arranged like sculptures on a pedestal. The need to respond to the desires so deftly created by consumism is represented by the trade in fakes and the binary pair merchandise/artwork. As is always the case in Costa’s work, the choice of the material is crucial: in this case the fake marble of the platform, put to very widespread use in Brazilian middle-class homes, underscores the cultural debt with respect to an extraneous artistic tradition.

The exhibition concludes with How to Be Invisible in High Heels (2014), a sequence of 15 monochromatic and apparently identical steles arranged to form a rigorous geometric composition. The abstract form of these sculptures actually contains a forceful biographical component: the height of each single piece equals the height, wearing high heels, of one of the Brazilian transsexuals the artist met in Milan during his research. Therefore this is a portrait gallery, whose apparent minimalism is contradicted by the material used, a friable and porous compound, made of cement, sand and red earth, emphasizing the condition of extreme vulnerability of those who are forced to display themselves every day.

Through this collection of simulacra of bodies and objects, La Commedia dell’Arte reflects on the liminal space between visibility and invisibility, through works that translate urgent social questions into poetic terms, tempering the forceful political dimension with clearly perceptible formal and aesthetic research.

Adriano Costa (b. 1975) lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil.

Adriano Costa at Peep-Hole
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October 3, 2014

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