Alexandre Da Cunha /   Alexandre da Cunha

Brazil 1969

Installation, Sculpture, Painting

Alexandre Da Cunha
Alexandre da Cunha
May 17, 2016

In everyday life, we’re surrounded by a lot of things, whose true purpose is hiding in plain sight, often escaping our attention. Alexandre da Cunha is a Brazilian artist who refers to his artistic practice as pointing rather than making. He’s pointing at objects that already exist and highlights and reveals new and sometimes unexpected meanings. Continual exploitation of an object by twisting its meaning is the core of his process. The artist is also known for his exploration of the hybrid and complicated national identity. The potential of his objects is emphasized by pointing out their specific aspects. The humorous element is present, but hidden on the first look, and the accent is the perfect timing to tell a joke because otherwise something intended to be funny becomes dull and not entertaining.

Alexandre da Cunha - Quilt, 2010 (Left) - Public Sculpture (pouff 6), 2014 (Right). Photo credits Thomas Dane Gallery, concrete brazilian arts in 2016
Alexandre da Cunha – Quilt, 2010 (Left) / Public Sculpture (pouff 6), 2014 (Right). Photo credits Thomas Dane Gallery

Dividing Attention

The artist mostly works in installations, sculptures, and assemblages, but painting as well, where his pieces are often made of mass-produced consumer products or materials used in industry, like foam or concrete. Da Cunha’s attention is equally distributed between the formal properties of these objects – shape, color, and texture, and their social, historical, and cultural resonances. His work is influenced by the architecture of European Modernists, Op Art, and of course, the great Marcel Duchamp. The artist acknowledges Duchamp’s influence and states that his ideas are so universal in contemporary art that almost all artists are influenced by a Master at some point of their artistic careers.

Like many artists, da Cunha was also inspired by Marcel Duchamp

Alexandre da Cunha - Amazons (Painting I), 2014 (Left) - Amazons (Painting X), 2015 (Right). Photo credits CGR Gallery, arts
Alexandre da Cunha – Amazons (Painting I), 2014 (Left) / Amazons (Painting X), 2015 (Right). Photo credits CGR Gallery

The Alterations

Da Cunha was born in Brazil but he’s been living in London for more than a decade. He studied at the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado in São Paulo, Brazil, Royal College of Art in London, and the Chelsea College of Art, also in the capital of England. His work revolves around reclaiming, decontextualization and altering the objects, and in doing so, they slowly begin to lean towards the sensibilities of other objects. When speaking about mimicry, so ever-present in his pieces, there are two things at work – on one side, the specific periods in art history are referenced by all the works, playing the joke, like when deck chair references minimalist painting – the other side is the artist’s actual interest in the origins of the materials, like the flags and the beach towels they’re made of.

The artist references periods of art history, and he’s interested in the origins of the materials

Alexandre da Cunha - Full Catastrophe (Drum X), 2012 (Left) - Navajo 1, 2014 (Right). Photo credits Galeria Luisa Strina
Alexandre da Cunha – Full Catastrophe (Drum X), 2012 (Left) / Navajo 1, 2014 (Right). Photo credits Galeria Luisa Strina

The Humor

Da Cunha’s practice could be described as a satire of the modern art. The element of humor is extremely important, and the artist deeply enjoys in the fact that his pieces look very formal and rigid at the first sight. But, once more time is given to studying the artworks, the viewers notice there are hidden sides, often hysterical, that reveal themselves. For him, the most important things are to be precise when it comes to the timing of his jokes, since the objects trying very hard to be funny, often are not funny at all, but also to discover how to find and how to get the joke right.

Alexandre Da Cunha lives and works in London.

Featured image: Alexandre Da Cunha – portrait, photo credits paralela10

All images used for illustrative purposes only

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Free FallThomas Dane Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2016British Art Show 8Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, UKGroup
2016Brasil, Beleza?! Contemporary Brazilian SculptureMuseum Beelden Aan Zee, HollandGroup
2016The Science of Imaginary SolutionsBresse Little, London, UKGroup
2016Camera of WondersMAMM - Museo de Arte Moderno, Medellin, ColumbiaGroup
2015Alexandre Da CuhnaCRG Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2015Alexandre Da CuhnaMCA Chicago Plaza Project, Chicago, ILSolo
2015RealGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2015British Art Show 8Leeds, UKGroup
2015Pangaea IISaatchi Gallery, LondonGroup
2015Zabludowicz Collection: 20 YearsZabludowicz Collection, London, UKGroup
2015Fiber: Sculpture, 1960-PresentICA Boston, MAGroup
2014Permission to be Global- Practicas Globales: Latin American Art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros FoundationMuseum of Fine Arts, BostonGroup
2014Cruzamentos Contemporary Art in BrazilWexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OhioGroup
2014DeslizeMuseu de Arte do Rio MAR, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilGroup
2014Arroz sem SalGaleria Sylvia Cintra + Box 4, Rio de JaneiroGroup
2013ContratempoSommer & Kohl, Berlin, GermanySolo
2013Alexandre da CunhaFrieze New York, New York, NYSolo
2013DecorumMusee d Art Modern de la Ville, Paris, FranceGroup
2013HomebodiesMuseum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, ILGroup
2013CollectionFonds Regional d Art Contemporain Basse - Normandie, Caen, FranceGroup
2013Alexandre da Cunha, Michael Rey, Michael Williams, B.WurtzOffice Baroque, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
2013On The Passage of a FewSimon Preston Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2013The World Turned Upside Down - Buster Keaton, Sculpture and the AbsurdWarwick Art Centre, Coventry, UKGroup
2012Alexandre da CunhaLe Grand Cafe Centre d Art Contemporain, Saint-Nazaire, FranceSolo
2012Full CatastropheThomas Dane Gallery, London, UKSolo
2012Kentucky Pied de PouleCRG Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2012PassengersCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CAGroup
2012BLOCK, PILLAR, SLAB, BEAMAspen Art Museum, Aspen, COGroup
2012The Imminence of Poetics, 30th Sao Paulo BiennialSao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2012Alexandre da Cunha & Neil CampbellOffice Baroque Gallery, Antwerp, BelgiumGroup
2012British Modern Remade, Arts Council CollectionPark Hill Estate, Sheffield, UKGroup
2012Garden of ReasonHam House, London, UKGroup
2012Economy of means: toward humility in contemporary sculptureScottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZGroup
2011DubleCentro Cultural Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2011MonolithSommer & Kohl, Berlin, GermanySolo
2011Fair TradeGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2011Making Is ThinkingWitte De With Center for Contemporary Art, RotterdamGroup
2011The ExtensionVilma Gold, London, UKGroup
2011Caos e Efeito, Itau CulturalSao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2011Into the GreenFrankendael Foundation, AmsterdamGroup
2011As ruas e as bobagensItau Cultural, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2011MyhtologiesCite des Arts, Paris, FranceGroup
2011Nova Escultura BrasileiraCaixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilGroup
2011Vestigios de BrasilidadeSantander Cultural Recife, Recife, BrazilGroup
2011Government Art Collection selected by Cornelia Parker: Richard of York Gave Battle in VainWhitechapel Gallery, London, UKGroup
2010Inaugural ShowCRG, New YorkGroup
2010First and Last, Notes on the MonumentGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2010Billdertausch 2: A New Presentation of the Marli Hoppe-Ritter CollectionMuseum Ritter, Waldenbuch, GermanyGroup
2010PanamericaKurimanzuto Gallery, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2010The Big RipoffCamden Art Centre, LondonGroup
2010A Very Very Long CatWallspace, New YorkGroup
2010Los ImpoliticosPalazzo delle Arti Napoli, Naples, ItalyGroup
2009Laissez-FaireCamden Arts Centre, London, UKSolo
20092nd San Juan TriennialPuerto RicoGroup
2009Revolution of the OrdinaryMuseum Morsbroich, LeverkusenGroup
2009Pete and Repeat: Works from the Zabludowicz Collection176 LondonGroup
2009SniperGalerie Biedermann, Munich, GermanyGroup
2009IV Bienal de JafreGironaGroup
2009China SeriesOrganhaus, ChongqingGroup
2008Alexandre Da CuhnaVilma Gold, London, UKSolo
2008Alexandre Da CuhnaGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2008Club SandwichSommer & Kohl, Berlin, GermanySolo
2008An Unruly History of the ReadymadeEcatepac de Morelos, MexicoGroup
2008ProcedenteMAP Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo HorizonteGroup
2008Inhotim new acquisitionsInhotim Centro de arte contemporanea, BrazilGroup
2008Transformational GrammarsGaleria Francesca Kaufmann, Milan, ItalyGroup
2008This is not a voidGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2008The Gentle Art of Collapsing the Expanded FieldCardenas Bellanger, Paris, FranceGroup
2008Chambres a part IIFIAC 2008, La Reserve - Paris, Paris, FranceGroup
2008De perto e de Longe - ParalelaLiceu de Artes, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2008Nova Arte NovaCCBB Rio de Janeiro, BrazilGroup
2008Pendre la CremaillereSommer and Kohl, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2008Group showAndre Schlechtriem, New YorkGroup
2007PassengersCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CaliforniaSolo
2007Alexandre da Cunha - Damien RoachNAK, Aachen, GermanySolo
2007Fortunate ObjectsCIFO, MiamiGroup
2007Eurovision - Jahresgaben 2007NAK, Aachen, GermanyGroup
2007Close to meStudio Guenzani, Milan, ItalyGroup
2007Bildertausch 2Museum Ritter, WaldenbuchGroup
2007CTRL_C + CTRL_VSesc Pompeia, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2007PassengersCCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, CaliforniaGroup
2006Paco das ArtesSao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2006Around the World in Eighty DaysICA-South London Gallery, LondonGroup
2006WrongKlosterfelde Gallery, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2006ContrabandoGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2006Geracao da ViradaInstituto Tomie Otake, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2006ParalelaPavilhao Armando de Arruda Pereira, Parque do Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2005Alexandre da CunhaMuseu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, BrazilSolo
2005ColoramaVilma Gold, London, UKSolo
2005Prague Biennale 2Prague, Czech RepublicGroup
2004Carro NovoGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2004Fragmentos e Souvenirs Paulistanos Vol. 1Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2004ParalelaSao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2004Imagine LimerickEV+A 2004, LimerickGroup
2004Produciendo RealidadPrometeo Associazione Culturale, LuccaGroup
2004Sneeze Project 80 x 80Gazon Rouge Gallery, AthensGroup
200350th Venice BiennaleThe Structure of Survival, Venice, ItalyGroup
2003The Virgin ShowThe Wrong Gallery, New YorkGroup
2003The Lost Collection of An Invisible ManThe Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UKGroup
2003PoTGaleria Fortes Vilaca, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2002Alexandre da Cunha & Brian GriffithsGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
2002Liverpool BiennialLiverpool, UKGroup
2002Materia PrimaNovo Museu, CuritibaGroup
2001Brighton IconsSt Batholomew Church, BrightonGroup
2001Desenhistas e ColoristasGaleria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
200113 VideobrasilSesc SP, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2001Arco das RosasCasa das Rosas, Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2000PICAF, Pusan International Contemporary Art FestivalPusanGroup
2000EV+A Biennial (Friends and Neighbors)Limerick City Art Gallery, LimerickGroup
1999Herancas ContemporaneasMuseu de Arte Contemporanea de Sao Paulo, BrazilGroup
1998Alexandre da CunhaProjeto Macunaima Funarte, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSolo
1998Projecto MacunimaRio de Janeiro, BrazilGroup
1997Suspended InstantsArt in General Gallery, New YorkGroup
1997European Media Art FestivalOsnabruck, GermanyGroup