Maxwell Alexandre

Casa SP-Arte, Aug-Oct/23

Since 26 August, a solo show by Maxwell Alexandre has been on display at Casa SP-Arte. The artist, born in 1990 in Rio de Janeiro city, is globally recognized, having exhibited extensively in Brazil and abroad. His personal background, a Black man living in poor areas of Rio, informs his work. He goes beyond the traditional art supports and categories. The show is titled “Maxwell Alexandre, New Power: passability, Miss Brazil” and is organized by Millan Gallery, which recently started representing him.

Instalation View, Maxwell Alexandre. Image: London Art Walk 2023

The more than twenty works shown were specifically created for this exhibiting place. They are part of the series “New Power,” which started in 2023 and was displayed in art places in Madrid, Spain and Rio.

The solo show deals with the idea of bringing the black community into hallowed temples for the contemplation of art, such as museums and galleries. In this sense, the artist resorts to three colours: black, white, and “pardo.” Black refers to the black human bodies depicted in the paintings. White addresses the white cube—the clean exhibition spaces. Finally, “pardo” points to the works themselves. In the Portuguese language, “pardo” refers to the brown-skinned people and to “papel pardo” (brown kraft paper), on which these paintings were made.

Maxwell Alexandre. Image: London Art Walk 2023

Most of the paintings show people. They are queer men, common men or women, security guards, a kid, and so on. Many of them have blonde-dyed hair, which, for the artist, defies what is expected or allowed for a black person. Other paintings show some objects, while two giant ones depict empty golden frames, in order to make clear the importance of them to bringing greater importance to a work. The paintings float in the gallery space, as they are sheets of paper hanging from the ceiling, not on the walls.

This exhibit’s relevance has many aspects. First, it is a black artist occupying an art place rarely occupied by black people in Brazil. Second, the works explore a difficult material to work with – brown kraft paper is too thin, too porous, and too fragile. Finally, not to mention many other aspects that could be pointed out, the works show the people and the costumes of a marginalized population.

Maxwell Alexandre. Image: London Art Walk 2023

Casa SP-Arte is literally a “casa,” English for house, and is located in the neighbourhood of Jardins, in São Paulo city. In fact, it is a small extraordinary modernist house designed by Flávio de Carvalho (1899-1973), an avant-garde architect and artist who pioneered modern housing. SP-Arte is Brazil’s most influential and well-established art fair, running since 2005. In early 2023, it inaugurated Casa SP-Arte, a place to be home to shows by partner local galleries.

This beautiful show, which ends on 7 October, and gallery exemplify the places where London Art Walk can take you, especially if you choose to have a bespoke tour with us, individually or in a small group. We will do a tailor-made selection of art galleries and museums for you to visit, considering your preferences and our knowledge of what is on display and what is hot. Also, we may arrange studio visits if you wish. Come walk with us!

Luis Sandes for London Art Walk
October 2023