Brazilian Conceptual artist Valeska Soares featured at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

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Brazilian Conceptual artist Valeska Soares featured at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Valeska Soares, Tabled, 2017, 31 wood tables from the Wadsworth Atheneum collection, Mylar, and custom-cut colored felt. Courtesy of the artist and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Allen Phillips, Wadsworth Atheneum.

HARTFORD, CONN.- The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s 176th installation of its groundbreaking MATRIX program features Brazilian conceptual artist Valeska Soares (b. 1957). Soares’ exhibition, “Unfold,” presents two, new site-specific installations that create dialogues with the museum’s architecture and collection. The exhibition runs through May 7. Patricia Hickson, Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art, curated the exhibition.

In her work, Soares creates immaculately-realized, poetic environments incorporating found, manipulated and manmade objects to address subjects such as spirituality, desire, ephemerality and time. For her newly-conceived MATRIX projects, Soares’ degree in architecture, acute interest in design and sense of space will inform two installations: “Tabled,” and, “Unhinged.”

In “Tabled,” Soares mixes history, abstraction and everyday objects responding to the modernity of the museum’s 1934 Avery Memorial Building—a groundbreaking icon of International style architecture—and to Pietro Francavilla’s “Venus with Nymph and Satyr” (1600), the Mannerist marble sculpture that emerges from the fountain pool at the heart of the space. Soares employs the museum’s collection of wood tables of all styles, sizes and heights, tightly placed edge to edge, creating a cordon of objects around the pool. Each table is topped with a felt pad, precisely cut to size, in a different solid color—black, white, red or gray. Viewed from the upper two balconies, the surfaces of the tables will read like monochromatic shaped canvases.

Responding to the pure geometry and palette of the Avery Memorial, “Unhinged,” will create a new architectural feature within the gallery in the form of a labyrinthine sculpture. Zig-zagging through the space, the “walls” of the sculpture will be constructed of 15 wood headboards dating from the 1900s to the 1970s, hinged together to disrupt the viewer’s typical navigation of the space. The unique headboard forms suggest not just bedframes, but confining fences, prison gates and even cemetery headstones. Ominous, but also beautiful and poetic, the distinctive patterns of the old, worn, decorative headboards also conjure ideas about history and associations with the bed―a place of love, death, sleep, dreams, memories and the lives of owners long passed.

The artist offers, “I’m fascinated by ephemeral things; I’m giving people triggers that activate memories and contexts, and they create their own narratives. Each piece has multiple readings depending on who is seeing it. What I want my pieces to be are triggers.”

Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Soares lives and works in São Paulo, Brazil, and Brooklyn, New York. Her last major U.S. museum exhibition was held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2003. Her work has been the subject of a number of solo exhibitions: at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1995); the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, California (1999); and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico (2003). Soares has participated in the international contemporary art biennials of Venice (2005), Istanbul (2006), Taipei (2006), São Paulo (2008), and Sharjah (2009).

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