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Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to announce Massa Confusa, an online exhibition by João Maria Gusmão on his current research on analogue means and concepts, photographic materialism, and satirical meta-literature. The title, Massa Confusa (chaotic matter), refers to the esoteric tradition of alchemy, a predecessor of modern chemistry, whose goal was to cleanse an amalgamate into a substance that could serve a variety of purposes from granting immortality to transmuting metals from quicksilver into gold. Massa confusa would be the initial chaotic description of the compound from which this mystical and chemical process would begin. The exhibition consists of twenty-four unique photographic prints shot directly on RA4 paper with an 8x10 inches camera, and a short story by João Maria Gusmão – translated by Chris Foster, designed by Ana Baliza and read by Post Brothers, writer/curator/performer and a friend of the artist.


Recently, Gusmão has been developing a printing technique using light sensitive photographic paper and experimenting with different color chemistry. In the first presentation of Gusmão latest photos there is a structuralist likeness between the photographic subject and the final rendering of the images. Working with a collection of traditional Japanese inspired Chawan bowls by Victor Harris (b. 1964, Bristol), Gusmão proposes a tautological serendipity connecting the exquisite glazed surfaces and forms of Harris’ ceramic to his own experimental approach towards the photographic object. The result reveals an alchemical inquiry into the nature and logic of appearances.


Gusmão pictures Harris’ Chawans as an archetypal object, a ceremonial teacup which resembles a vessel for melting metals, a crucible. His processual approach suggests, by the myriad of painterly colors, control and chance-driven chemical reactions, the idea of a photographic kiln: a volcanic photography for lava glazed ceramics. In addition to the recognizable tea bowls, Gusmão presents photos, shot and processed during the same sessions, in which the subject has been erased either by extreme manipulation or by failed exposure in the shooting. These images further convey the self-sufficiency of the chemical imaging, stretching the photographic medium beyond the dichotomy visible/invisible and  questioning the limits of representation in photography.


Four years ago, Gusmão started writing his own version of the Faustian myth in short story episodes; these stories have appeared throughout Gusmão’s exhibitions as well as in commissioned texts by the artist. Writing through a stylized surrealist idiocy of literary adventuring, Gusmão aims at subtly connecting the art objects presented with his thought processes and conceptual apparatus. The latest short story finds Faust in a tearoom parlor waiting for a moneylender to support his alchemical entrepreneurship…


In addition to the online exhibition, a selection of works is on view at our 22 Cortlandt Alley location.


João Maria Gusmão (b. 1979, Portugal) is a Lisbon based artist who studied at FBAUL, Lisbon’s fine art university school. He formed a duo with Pedro Paiva from 2001 until the end of 2018.  Since then he has been working as solo artist, but also pursuing and continuing other art related practices mostly as a curator, book editor and writer. João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva participated in several international biennales, among which are: Venice (2009 and 2013), São Paulo (2006), Manifesta (2007), Gwangju (2010), and has been the subject of several major anthological exhibitions in museums and art centers around the world including: the Serralves Museum in Porto, 2021, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, 2016, the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, 2016, the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Koln, 2015, REDCAT in LA, 2015, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in 2015, the Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milano in 2014, the Camden Art Centre in London, 2014, Le Plateau, Paris in 2011 and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in 2011. João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva’s work is represented, among other institutions, in the SFMOMA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the TATE Modern, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museo Reina Sofia and the Fundação Museu de Serralves.


Victor Harris, born in 1964 in Bristol, created Erin Bonsai pottery with his father Glyn in 1998. Erin Bonsai is a reference in European made bonsai pots and vases.


Post Brothers aka Matthew Post is an enthusiast, word processor, and curator often engaged in artist-centered projects and collaborations. Based in Kolonia Koplany, Poland and currently working as an Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Post Brothers has curated exhibitions around the world including acting as the previous curator was at Kunstverein München in Munich. Post Brothers’ writing has been published in Annual Magazine, the Baltic Notebooks of Anthony Blunt, Cura, Fillip, Kaleidoscope, Mousse, Nero, Art Papers, Pazmaker, Punkt, and Spike Art Quarterly, among others.