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sculpture of a chair and fabric on the floor
Text and Image

Lucia Nogueira, Hide and Seek, 1997, refrigerator, packing material, framed photograph, dimensions variable.

Castle Street
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.

art installation with 2 sculptures facing glass windows

Installation view of Lucia Nogueira, Kettle's Yard, 2011

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.

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