15 Feb – 23 Mar 2019
Alex Flemming presents an unprecedented exhibition at Emmathomas Gallery
Brazilian artist based in Berlin reflects on the country’s political scene, employing biblical metaphors
Starting February 14, Emmathomas Gallery welcomes Alex Flemming’s Ecce Homo exhibition, an unprecedented individual of the artist born in São Paulo, Brazil, who resides in Berlin. The exhibition will display his most recent work, a series whose name is the exhibition’s, as well.
With curatorship of Ricardo Resende, the exhibition gathers 27 works that reflect bathroom basins manufactured in the 70s and 80s. On them, Alex Flemming draws with the aid of a diamond tipped emery that enables to engrave the lavatory’s surface. Accurate traces engraved on the ceramic surfaces of lavatories crack the pigment layer, displaying a wide variety of white lines under the vivid and enameled colors of them. Next, hands of friends and people close to the artist take shape. Before making hands’ shapes permanent, he photographs them.
“Flemming keeps daily records of his gestures, in which he washes off the filth of his hands, an analogy to Brazil’s political scenario, ravaged by corruption from politicians and the general population as well”, says the curator, for whom, symbolically, the artist’s concealed dirt represents the human soul, one of hypocrisy, false religious and moral values
“His work, in a way, unravels moral antagonism between good and evil in our lives: perversion, decadence, weakness, lying, scorn, denial and immorality. His poetic gesture of washing his hands seeks purity: not just hands, but also moral and mental health cleansing” adds Resende. His work at the exhibition space is rather unusual: washbasins get pedestals similar to home shrines typical of Brazil’s Baroque period. The sacred motif in the artist’s exhibition is inspired by the biblical passage that precedes Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
“Ecce Homo”, Latin for “Here is the man” is what Pontius Pilate is supposed to have said at a crucial time for humanity, when Jesus Christ-the man of Nazareth, was handed over to the Jewish people, ordering the crowds to choose God’s son’s fate. Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the destiny that He had been granted, thus exempting himself of any responsibility on His upcoming crucifixion.
“This series proposes a plastic reflection about the fact that we wash our hands on important national issues, leaving them to be decided by politicians and other powerful people, thus reversing the biblical relationship,” comments Alex Flemming, for whom conflicts and social issues may cost too much. Conflicts and social issues often set-off his artistic creations.
Idealized in 2018, while still in Berlin, the series were created during a month in a shop the artist improvised at Marcos Amaro Art Factory, headquarter to Marcos Amaro Foundation in the city of Itú, in the state of São Paulo.
Alex Flemming is a painter, sculptor and engraver. He was born in 1954 in São Paulo and, since 1993, lives in Berlin, Germany.
Between 1972 and 1974, he attended the free film course at Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP). He also studied screen printing and metal engraving. Over the same decade he produced short films; he also participated in various festivals. From the 90s onward he sporadically took part in exhibition spaces and worked on autobiographical paintings. He gathered furniture to use in his work, applying on them paint, letters or texts.
Despite living in Germany, he has always exhibited in Brazil. In 1998 he produced glass panels for São Paulo’s Sumaré metro station, containing pictures of ordinary people, on which he overlaid colorful letters and excerpts from poems by Brazilian authors.
The human body’s representation plus maps of conflict areas could be observed in the series Body Builders (2001-2002). The series Flying Carpet in 2002 was inspired by September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States. The 2016 Anaconda series are a plastic reflection about the dictatorship horrors of ISIS, crisscrossed with Middle Eastern cultural traditions.