Emalin

Adriano Costa: ax-d. us. t

Emalin is pleased to present ax-d. us. t, Adriano Costa’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The artist’s project draws on the context of the historical Clerk’s House, where the exhibition…

Exhibitions

Event Details

Category

Exhibitions

Event Starts

Apr 12, 2024

Event Ends

Jul 13, 2024

Venue

Emalin

Location

The Clerk’s House, 118½ Shoreditch High Street, London

Emalin is pleased to present ax-d. us. t, Adriano Costa’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The artist’s project draws on the context of the historical Clerk’s House, where the exhibition unfolds, as well as the cemetery grounds of St Leonard’s Church on which the house stands and whose tombstones are built into its walls. With this as his starting point, Costa engages the built and the historical with his sculptural vocabulary that makes tangible the transmutation of value into base material, of life into spirit and of body into dust.

The exhibition’s title, ax-d. us. t, is a wordplay about the axis of distance between ‘us’ – you and I – contained within the word ‘dust’. Costa’s sculptural focus on detritus and passing is saturated with spirituality: he references the sacred books of Christianity, the biblical prophecy of the world turning from dust to dust, as seen in the churchyard outside. In his native São Paulo, he follows his spiritual guides of Candomblé to pay respect to the stuff from which we are made, the stuff into which we turn, the dead and the living, the trash and the gold, what they sell for and what we give to buy them.

Adriano Costa’s practice mixes universals with trash. He will object to this – just as he would refute the existence of found objects, or site-specific exhibitions. Imbuing all of the material world with the same force of spiritual importance, he concludes that everything is found and everything is site specific. Taking this logic forward, his practice interrogates the alchemy of matter and value, driven by a desperate love for things discarded. Love’s powerful logic spreads into his treatment of other universals and moves him to abolish the hierarchy of value between different materials. And so Costa wishes to redirect attention away from pedestals and grand gestures by placing his works on the floor, leaving them unguarded, easily mistaken for the trash he is so indebted to. The existential mistake of value stands to Costa for something of the tragic farce of the world — a spiritual kind of humour that unfolds in material objects.

The bronze sculptures in the exhibition follow on from a series of sculptures cast from discarded moulds, retrieved from Costa’s foundry. The foundry in São Paulo is important to the artist: he spends time there, he talks to the workers, makes mistakes with them and, beyond this, engages in a ritual of watching the fire. To Costa bronze is demanding. When working with it, you must follow its rhythm, you cannot be dictatorial, cannot decide the time it needs. You must respect it because it is not only stubborn but dangerous: it can take your hands. It demands reverence. But this reverence is not at its peak when the bronze is cast – is beautiful, stable, quiet even – but when it is at its most powerful and most wild: when it is in the fire of its birth. These libidinal bronze pieces are heavy with his fingerprints and crushed with a knife, one penetrating another, a reckless abandon of spirit.

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