A stunning show opened up last night and a few dozen people gathered on The Bowery to toast the Brazilian sculptor who created it.
Arsenal Contemporary is presenting Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s first-ever New York solo presentation. “Until Different” features a series of pieces that emerged from the 37-year-old artist’s research on ancient Amazonian burial practices that have been discovered in modern Brazil, where Cerqueira Leite was born and raised. She lives in Brooklyn now, but is clearly informed by the history of her homeland.
Cerqueira Leite said that she was struck by the transformation doctrines of indigenous people. “These pieces were inspired by Amerindian funeral urns,” the artist told Fine Art Globe during a conversation at the gallery. “They had super elaborate designs to help the dead transform into a bird or fish or whatever creature was regarded as propitious by that particular tribe. That’s why some of the pieces have multiple breasts—they are preparing to be life-giving in the next world.”
According to the densely worded press release that accompanies the opening, “Cerqueira Leite’s sculptures are tightly wound between preservation and transmutation. They spill out from the artist’s body, seemingly evincing, something like, their original form, as they continue to lose, gather and modulate the information that enabled their creation. One can make out parts of the body, the artist’s breasts and fingers, for example, but these parts are cannibalized onto themselves as they are caught outside of fixed singular perspective; they disintegrate in the casting process which was paradoxically meant to conserve them.”
That’s a mouthful, but the pieces themselves are arrestingly straightforward and accessible. You have until November 4th to get down to 214 Bowery and discover for yourself this powerful and original new voice.