Helsinki

Pedro Barateiro: Backs and Covers

Pedro Barateiro: Backs and Covers

Jan

06

Thu

12:00 – 18:00

8–9°C

broken clouds

Pedro Barateiro (Portugal, 1979) has been internationally active for some 15 years, but this is his first exhibition in Finland. His practice embodies a fundamental tension of the ‘information age’, between the inspiration we get from knowledge and our longing for the unknowable. Barateiro is both a communicator/mediator/impersonator – notably in his frequent lecture-performances – and a studio artist of an almost classical modernist bent, with drawing, sculpture and painting on his repertoire.

It is not for nothing that Barateiro once titled an essay ‘The Artist as Spectator’ and that cartoonish ‘data monsters’ keep appearing in his recent visual output. These may be allegorical snipes at the much-lauded ‘entrepreneur’ (who, in turn, may stand in for the contemporary data-driven artist) but they also have a distinctly hand-drawn look.

For Barateiro, artistic thinking is too important to be taken altogether seriously. The book covers from his iThe two animated films by Barateiro shown at Kohta offer glimpses of a similar monster: a cerebral, increasingly disembodied and featureless creature easily saddened by its own self-representation as image, word and sound. Monologue for a Monster (2021, 6’50”, with the voice of Portuguese singer-songwriter Conan Osiris and English subtitles) is at the same time more discursive and more abstract than A Letter to You (2020, 10′, with ASMR or ‘brain massage’ sounds and English subtitles), for which various monstrous characteristics have been distilled into one single visual motif, that of blinking eyelashes without eyes.

The two animated films by Barateiro shown at Kohta offer glimpses of a similar monster: a cerebral, increasingly disembodied and featureless creature easily saddened by its own self-representation as image, word and sound. Monologue for a Monster (2021, 6’50”, with the voice of Portuguese singer-songwriter Conan Osiris and English subtitles) is at the same time more discursive and more abstract than A Letter to You (2020, 10′, with ASMR or ‘brain massage’ sounds and English subtitles), for which various monstrous characteristics have been distilled into one single visual motif, that of blinking eyelashes without eyes.

Backs (2019) is, as it were, emblematic of the other side of Barateiro’s being-in-the world as an artist, where the use of language is suspended. In this series of modestly-sized works in gouache on paper he employs refined but simple gestures (vivid colours and rather fast brushwork) to achieve reductive figuration. We easily decode the five colour fields as a representation of a back, or more precisely of its bodily presence, but the curvilinear negative spaces at the four corners still arrest our gaze in mid-flight and make us doubt if our immediate reading is the right one.

Portal (2022), finally, is the new element that connects the other components of the exhibition, forming the visual medium in which they can float together. This wallpaper is custom-made for Kohta’s larger exhibition space and based on an open-source library image of a young girl in front of a microphone, turning her back to the photographer.

Through no fault of her own, in Barateiro’s adaptation of this appropriated and literally faceless image its model offers an opportunity to remember a text from 1999 that remains crucial for the times we live in. In Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl the Tiqqun collective of anonymous French philosophers theoretically dissect capitalism’s ultimate form of merchandise: the living spectacle of the Young-Girl as it is constantly being performed through the consumption of goods and, not least, information.

Thu 06 Jan 2022 – 27 Feb 2022 12:00 – 18:00

8–9°C

broken clouds

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Työpajankatu 2 B 3. fl
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