Alexandre da Cunha

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Alexandre da Cunha
Alexandre da Cunha, 'Nude VII', 2012

British-Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha has built a reputation for subverting everyday, found objects such as mop heads, rubber tyres and kitchen utensils, into playful assemblages. This show is no exception. His materials here are industrial concrete mixer drums and beach hats, which on paper might sound gauche but in person are simply absorbing. In the first gallery the drums rest on plinths. Da Cunha has manipulated these steel, iron, brass and stone cauldrons into uniform structures, with contrived touches of rustic wear and tear; paint peels on the rims, the work-worn steel is dented and cracked. There's something slightly intimidating and curiously unsettling in the drums's representation of labour and drudgery.

The second gallery is much more uplifting; beach hats – in all manner of straw, hessian, felt and wicker material – are tacked on to textured canvases and protrude from the walls like nipples. The rims of the hats are meticulously flattened into hypnotic spirals, while the crowns pop out, almost inviting you to touch them. In contrast to the works in the first gallery, these are bright and deeply funny, skipping from calm and restful to daft and buoyant. 'Nude IX' features a single canary yellow hat on a yellow canvas, while 'Nude VI' recalls a crude, child-like interpretation of a solar system, with the hats orbiting each other like planets. Each canvas also suggests an individual holiday story, broken down in to fragments and then stitched back together again, poking gentle fun at the rites of relaxation


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