The thorough selection and handling of materials inform, on a large scale, Paloma Bosquê’s practice. Her delicate three-dimensional compositions are the outcome of empirical processes through which the artist aims to combine, mold and arrange elements from miscellaneous origins, revealing the poetic potential of matter in transformation.
In her first solo show in Belgium, Bosquê presents new arrangements – or agreements – between elements that she has been dealing with for a few years and that have become part of her sculpturing vocabulary. These include elements such as brass, lead plates, handmade felt, cast bronze, coal, resin, beeswax, sewed bovine tripe, artisanal paper, coffee sieves and wool.
Brazilian architect, Paulo Mendes da Rocha states that the primordial function of architecture is to bear the unpredictability of life, and I would argue, in this sense, that Bosquê’s work is anti-architecture. Her works and projects not only exist in the realm of unpredictability, but also benefit from it. The artists’ approach to sourced materials – always testing out its limits and investigating its physical possibilities – often make it look as though they are made of other substances. Despite their spare compositional rigor, Bosquê’s installations can read as vestiges of ancient nomadic tribes or resemble non-identifiable animal skins in the midst of burlap.
In the present-day jargon of contemporary art, it is common to say that the artist is presenting a new body of work, as if they were constantly pulling rabbits out of a hat. The works on view are, in fact, new – in the sense of recently produced. However, they are the outcome of well-known work processes as well as developments of formal choices and arguments set forth by the artist for several years; that is, her Inventory. Bosquê suggests a change in attitude in relation to the tangible world, where close observation and coexistence with the elements is no different than the attention devoted to our own bodies – the body of work or the body that works. Her works are the result of an ongoing negotiation between her strength and manual abilities, and the response she gets from the materials in movement. However, in spite of frequent recalling corporeal forms, these sculptures are mostly abstract: often gnarled and knit, or amalgamated and stacked. There is a sense of making it happen in Bosquê’s work that keeps our focus on her materials, as they pass in and out of form, in and out of sense. That play between the mystery of matter and the potential meaning of form.
Bosquê’s sculptures are always singular occurrences. She addresses different natural phenomena whilst producing them, as if she were, at all times, aiming to grasp the very essence of all her materials. A warm or cold day may interfere with the wax’s melting point, just as the traces of use in each of the wooden frames, which were once used to make artisanal papers, inform the position where the cactus thorns should be placed (Thorns #4, 2018). Both the works quickly molded by hand, as well as the more complex projects that entail months of labor and assistance, shy away from the argument of technical valuation of manual labor and the artist’s hand fetish. Bosquê’s compositions are dense and delicate – and they purposefully do not boast the complexity behind their production or rely on conceptual apparatus as an alibi for formal questions. Contrary to modernism’s straightforward approach and aesthetic reason, these works are aware of their own conflicts.