Used to Be – a solo show that presents an entirely new body of works – gives continuity to this exploration, with a twist. If PichiAvo’s art stems from graffiti and muralism – activities based on the use of the wall and the public space, where ephemerality and chance determine the integrity and the lifespan of the works –, Used to Be synthesises and materialises these issues in the shape of an ingenious staging which places a (simulated) past in dialogue with the present.
Offering multiple layers of meaning, the exhibition presents us with three sets of works: a group of wall fragments with paintings (in spray paint, acrylic, and oil), a group of wall fragments with drawings (in isographic ink) – both on plasterboards, a new technique that opens up a new chapter in the artist’s oeuvre –, and a group of fragmented busts (in resin, and marble dust).
All of these pieces, as well as their very arrangement, seek to suggest an operation of transposition to the gallery of artefacts found in an archaeological context – each exhibiting, in its own way, the inevitable corruption dictated by the passage of time. A retrieval that is, obviously and openly, simulated, with a view to their preservation for the future.
The two first sets – that speak directly of mural creation, so transversal to PichiAvo’s practice – refer us to the idea of fragment (we find in their titles the Greek word “diáspasis” that expresses the act of splitting or separating) as well as to the idea of converting a mural work into an exhibition work – of a work salvaged and kept in a collection, just like the works of classical antiquity which we see today in museums. However, unlike what takes place in museums, there are works here that have connections which are not conspicuous in their display, leaving to the viewer the mission of establishing and complementing them (the clue is contained in the titles; or, in a more oblique form, in the very crack lines of the pieces “torn off” the walls).
Seemingly clean on the face of it, the busts, which form the third set, present us with a veiled proposition, referring us to the concept of “pentimento” (in painting, the presence of rejected previous sketches or compositions, usually only unveiled when the works are analysed by means of radiography), their integral reading only being possible with recourse to ultraviolet light.
What this whole offers us is a simulacrum that affects our perception and invites us to reflect on art and artistic heritage, on longevity and conservation, on collecting, on the value of objects and on their historical significance. But also, and particularly, on what is (or used to be) and what seems to be.
“Used to be” is a solo exhibition by PichiAvo at Underdogs Gallery, Lisbon
11th November – 30th December 2022
Entrance is free
11th November - 30th December 2022
Underdogs Gallery, R. Fernando Palha 56, 1950-132 Lisbon