A trunk for Exu
Katia Canton - Professor and Curator at MAC USP
In the pantheon of the orixás in Afro-Bahian mythology, Exu plays a singular role as the bridge between gods and mortals. It is precisely this bridge-the connecting space between the artwork and the city, between inside and outside-that Hugo França's installation materializes. Here, the enormous four-ton trunk of the pequi-vinagreiro tree intersects the entrance to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea of the Universidade de São Paulo, and presents itself in suspension, translating as a powerful symbol of resilience and strength, questioning the limits of materiality and life's ephemerality.
The tree of this species-1,200 years old and able to withstand even fire-gains surprising visibility, punctuating the modernist building's glassed-in ground floor with the organicity portrayed by the wear and tear of its very existence-the marks, veins, pits and lines drawn by the passage of time-are exalted through the sculptor's precise and loving eye. His hands wield and resignify the chainsaw, which, instead of an instrument used destroying nature, is used to emphasize organic contours and to establish the connection between two very different temporalities and spatialities.
On one side, then, is the urban flow of cars and people in constant transit along the avenue that makes up the outside, and imprints incessant speed on everything that surrounds the scenario. On the other, the suspension of this effervescence and the possibility of silence and contemplation that the museum and the works of art that fill it promise to the observer who seeks them.
In fact, with this combination of times, images and spatial possibilities, Hugo França offers us a sculptural production that revisits, with consistent respect, affection and originality, a work that is at the same time sculpture, poetry and political action. We at the University of São Paulo's Museum of Contemporary Art are proud to be able to exhibit - and thus bring to discussion-a work that is solid, daring and endowed with a simplicity of brutal and stunning beauty.
© 2017 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo