In the early seventies Duane Hanson, the undisputed protagonist of the hyper-realist current, began to invade museums and galleries with his life-size sculptures in painted polyester, finished with clothes and accessories, inspired by themes and subjects of everyday life (housewives, tourists, policemen, etc.). His works were moving portraits of resignation, of solitude, of violence and of the standardization of contemporary society and denounced the weary banality of ordinary people, stunned by consumerism. The issues addressed came from the context of Pop Art, but they subverted its inputs: instead of the glittering perfection of consumer products, we find the sloppiness of consumers, reproduced as opaque victims of an overwhelming economic and social mechanism. “My art does not want to deceive people”, the artist explained. “I look for human attitudes: tiredness, a little frustration, rejection. I see a sort of beauty in all this.” These sculptural illusions, radical in the context of their time, condemned the alienation of a mass society incapable of paying attention to the individual and restored importance, perhaps for the first time in such radical terms , to the individual dimension of ordinary characters, which emerged through a precise psychological characterization and the return of loving details like patches or bruises on arms and legs.
The aforementioned statement by the American artist could also introduce the work of Estevan Reder, aka Vantees, a young Brazilian artist already involved in many solo shows in Latin America, who arrived at the Portanova 12 gallery with the Lambe-Lambe exhibition (Portuguese word for posters photographs that the artist started gluing on the walls six years ago in Brazil) and with various incursions on the walls of Bologna. Even for him the main source of inspiration is the anonymous crowd he meets on the street and he chases with the camera to shoot and film attitudes, postures, gestures and lifestyles. All his subjects are taken without their knowledge from the back in moments of disarming sincerity, while they are engaged in daily practical activities, such as shopping, waiting for the subway or consulting a smartphone, when the mind is lost in thought and the psychology is revealed in the automatisms of the body. The shots are then printed on paper without any post-production, enlarged, cut out and return to populate other streets around the world in the form of monumental and ephemeral silhouettes applied to the walls. Of the unknown protagonists immortalized by the artist we know nothing but their backs, but it is surprising how these images manage to evoke the subjects’ stories and moods even excluding the face.
In Portanova 12 the crowd of Vantees has arranged to meet in a cosmopolitan gathering of shapes suspended on sheets of transparent plastic: it is possible to walk among them, but from any side you look at them will always show their backs and we will be forced in any case to head in the same direction. The sensitivity of his lens and his gaze makes each fold of the skin and clothes introspective; each one carries his usual burden, a bag, a backpack or a beach inflatable that tenderly tell the infinite nuances of normality. The people of Vantees are very colorful, they seem to have overcome the dull apathy of Hanson’s characters to turn into contemporary holograms capable of being here, now, elsewhere and nowhere with ever renewed curiosity. On the occasion of the end show, on November 22nd, the artist invites the public to attend a Live Lambin’ in the center of Bologna, an action that demonstrates how public spaces can (and should) be places open to creativity and to the freedom of expression.
18 October – 22 November 2019
Via Portanova 12 Bologna
For all the images: Vantees, Lambe-Lambe, installation view at Portanova 12, Bologna
Graduated in art history at DAMS in Bologna, city where she continued to live and work, she specialized in Siena with Enrico Crispolti. Curious and attentive to the becoming of the contemporary, she believes in the power of art to make life more interesting and she loves to explore its latest trends through dialogue with artists, curators and gallery owners. She considers writing a form of reasoning and analysis that reconstructs the connection between the artist’s creative path and the surrounding context.