January 15–March 13, 2011
Touching, felt, funny, gritty, vulnerable, forlorn, sad: These are all words that could easily describe a Lucia Nogueira assemblage sculpture, yet the sensitivity they suggest belies the everyday quality of her chosen materials. A small, cheap photo frame with a picture of a rabbit next to a yellow children’s bag sits on top of a brand-new refrigerator still clad in protective Styrofoam, its door facing the wall. These elements make up the first piece we encounter: Hide and Seek, 1997—the very children’s game this Brazilian artist seemed to have played with her viewers until her early death at age forty-eight, in 1998. Her art appears to brim with narrative purpose and potential meaning, but like the fridge door, they remain obscured.
Also on display are a selection of Nogueira’s ink and watercolor drawings; they are loose and playful, figurative and emotive. Maturing in the age of neo-expressionism, these paper works have a sense of humor and charm that doesn’t belong with the Arte Povera sensibility her sculptures exude. For instance, in the drawings, a cat leaps for a flock of birds, and tadpole-like helicopters float on a blank page; color bleeds, and drips are turned into feet. Expression is key here, and a strong sense of the tragicomic prevails. Her sense of touch—if meaning can be transmitted through one’s handling of material—is what unifies her sculpture and drawing. Mischief, 1995, the title of a piece and of the minisurvey itself, is a seatless wooden chair with one leg trapping an unrolled sheet of white garbage-bin liners. The poetry of a chair with a white bridal train is here countered by the comedy of the juxtaposed materials: Toilet paper stuck to a shoe comes as easily to mind. And that’s where Nogueira’s magic lies: It speaks of earthly matters while appealing to our appreciation of the lyric.
Read full article at artforum.com