In April 2016, Pivô presents Erika Verzutti’s solo exhibition Swan, Cucumber, Dinosaur as part of its Annual Exhibition Programme. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in a Brazilian institution. It showcases four artworks, of which two are newly commissioned site-specific pieces.
Verzutti presents a concise collection of works, highlighting Pivô’s arid exhibition space, offering at the same time an overview of her sculpture practice. By looking at the combination, in the same space, of two older works – Tarsila with New (2011) and Nessie (2008) – and the monumental Cisne Bambolê and Cisne Passarela, especially produced for this exhibition, visitors have access to important moments of the artist’s career spanning over a decade.
The particular use of clay, which she extends vertically in order to create possible points of support, is recurrent in Verzutti’s practice, resulting in forms that, according to the artist, refer directly to Tarsila do Amaral’s painting Sol Poente (1929). The artist borrows the modernist painter’s forms with the same fluency that she handles the soft material, transforming what Amaral described as a tree trunk seen from the farmhouse window* into swans and dinosaurs’ necks, cucumbers, feet in plaster and a whole repertoire of formal associations that have been following the artist for years.
Her first swan, Swan with Brush (2003), in painted raw clay, is supported by a paintbrush, perhaps the same paintbrush that created it, in a metalinguistic gesture that announced, over ten years ago, the words cited by the actor performing alongside the sculpture Swan with Stage (2015), in a sort of self-referring tragicomic monologue written by the artist and recently delivered at the Sculpture Center in New York.
Erika Verzutti’s works are never sterile: they acknowledge errors and associate, without ceremony, banal objects and domestic scales to the canons of the History of Art, incorporating magical and mysterious elements. Despite its handcrafted appearance, with rough edges, spots and wrinkles, her sculptures are made in a very rigorous way.
In her new works shaped around Pivô’s space, the gigantic swan necks meet and respond to the scale and unusual curves of the architecture. The heavy steel plates that go with the swans, modelled in polystyrene, paper and fibreglass, are a ‘toned down’ or, in the artist’s own words, ‘homemade’ version of Richard Serra or Brazilian artist Amílcar de Castro’s industrially folded heavy steel plates. The long walkway supported by Cisne Passarela and the round stage suggested by Cisne Bambolê proudly but melancholically yearn for the public, waiting for someone to activate them, as a sphinx seducing visitors without hiding its dangers: decipher me or I will devour you.