We are pleased to present the exhibition Sobre o Objeto de 8º Grau by José Damasceno. The artist is presenting his most recent installation, homonymous with the title of the show, along with a set of silkscreens and a painting on the wall of the exhibition space.
Sobre o Objeto de 8º Grau [On the Object of 8th Degree] is a set of small obsidian sculptures distributed on two rectangular felt mantels on the floor, like recent discoveries of an archaeological site. Damasceno, who frequently uses different kinds of rocks in his sculptures, this time, chose obsidian, which sparked his interest during his trips to Guadalajara. It is a sort of volcanic glass, created by the rapid solidification of magma; found widely in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, it was used as a mirror as well as a weapon, and was frequently associated to occultism and Aztec rituals.
Contrasting with the opacity of the felt, the black reflective surface of each piece of obsidian reflects the surface of each of the other pieces in the exhibition, creating an interplay of mirrors that recalls the short text “La imagen de séptimo grado”, by Argentine writer Macedonio Fernández. In it, the author describes the trip of an image through different reflections (including the memory and pictorial representation) and sets forth the idea that in each reflection the image leaves its own inscription.
This situation is similar to that of Estudos Paragráficos II, a set of twelve silkscreens arranged linearly on the wall next to the installation. In these works, the word paragráfico reveals a mediation between the graphic inscription and its possibilities of materialization, underscoring the tension between the bi- and tridimensional, the virtual and the real. Damasceno’s work lies in the borderline zone where the imaginary is multiplied in various reflections of language, and the experience of the real is diluted in these reflections. The aim of Damasceno’s proposal is not, therefore, to present an object of the eighth degree, but to invite the observer to seek it.
José Damasceno was born in Rio de Janeiro, where he lives and works. His solo shows have most notably included Coordenadas y Apariciones, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2008); Espace Topographie de l’Art, 37 Festival d’ Automne à Paris, France (2008); Viagem à Lua, 52nd Biennale di Venezia, Brazilian Pavilion, Venice, Italy (2007); and Observation Plan, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA (2004). Group shows he has participated in most notably include Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio, USA (2014); the Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); and the XXV Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2002). His work figures in various public collections, including Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation – CIFO, Miami, USA; Colección Jumex, DF, Mexico; Daros-Latinamerica AG, Zurich, Switzerland; Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil; MACBA – Museu d´Art Contemporania de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brasil; and MoMA, New York, USA