Monster Chetwynd,
Monster Chetwynd, "Hokusai's Octapai", 2004, installation at the Tanya Leighton gallery (Berlin). Photo: Courtesy Tanya Leighton Gallery

The impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about unimagined changes. The perplexity of the present, resulting from the protocols of seclusion and temporary closures of galleries, museums, fairs and biennials, has shaken the art system since the beginning of last year. In this context, the challenge of overcoming the crisis and seeking a way out of the unexpected collapse led to the creation of the collaborative platform Galleries Curate: RHE. The idea came from a group of gallery owners linked to the committee of the three Basel fairs – Miami, Hong Kong and Basel – with the idea of ​​promoting simultaneous virtual exhibitions in galleries from the four corners of the world, in support of the community.

The first exhibition has water as its theme and was suggested by the Paris-based gallery owner Chantal Crousel, one of the first to embrace the idea. The group highlighted the undeniable limitations that their spaces were experiencing at that time and decided to change the scenario with a dynamic virtual dialogue between the individual programs of each gallery, whether they were from Jakarta, Brussels, Singapore, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, or Paris. .

The only Brazilian gallery that is part of this international pool is The Gentle Carioca, from Rio de Janeiro, directed by Márcio Botner, one of its owners. Engaged in the Basel Miami committee, he is a globetrotter of the circuit, linked to several projects around the world and one of the most exciting with Galleries Curate. “The idea was born from the virtual contacts of a group of 12 people and I was impressed when we soon reached 21 participants”. Involved in so many projects, he believes in horizontal collaboration between artists, gallery owners and critics, uniting people who think close to the group's goals. Each gallery proposed what they wanted to show and they started exhibitions earlier this year. “What is happening is something special. While we have established gallery owners, we also have young enthusiasts with less time on the market. The platform began to be publicly thought about this year and people are now getting to know the project better.”

The French Clément Delépine, young coordinator of Galleries Curate: RHE and co-director of the Paris Internationale fair, also intermediates part of the project's lives. For him, from the first discussions, these conversations constitute a group therapy. “The project bears in its title the enigmatic symbol RHE, a measure of unity and impermanence, defined by two Greek words: Panta Rei, which means 'everything moves'.” Delépine draws an analogy between the water element, fundamental in our lives, and their efforts to create alternatives in the global crisis. The work transcends hosting online exhibitions, a digital platform, as there is also the concern of archiving materials referring to the works on display. When new content is added, past and current projects are mixed.
The exhibitions have multiple themes and most of them talk about the environment. at the press conference Tempest, by the Tanya Leighton gallery in Berlin, artist Monster Chetwynd stands out by molding the figure of an enormous octopus made of latex, painted and placed lasciviously on the floor. The installation is completed with a woodcut enlarged in xerox and fixed to the wall of a copy of the erotic series The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife (Kinoe no komatsu), by artist Katsushika Hokusai, executed in popular print shunga in the 19th century. Monster Chetwynd's work and life touch the performance, poetics with which she identifies. In a game of identities, the Glasgow artist changes her name from time to time, as did Hokusai, an artist she reveres and who throughout her life had more than 30 names. Water is presented here as a metaphor, dream or mythical delirium of a joy never experienced.

In a more programmatic perspective of the ecological movement, the Galleria Franco Noero, in Turin, displays Simon Starling's film, Project for a Rift Valley crossing. The still, composed of paradisiacal images, poetically records a canoe, built with magnesium extracted from the waters of the Dead Sea used in 2016, in an attempt to cross it, from Israel to Jordan. The experience advances in several directions and reveals that in this stretch, located in the Rift Valley, the water is highly salty and that the place stands out for being the lowest on the planet – it is 427 meters below sea level. He also warns that the region is heavily exploited for keeping special mineral riches: a liter of water contains 45 grams of magnesium.

There are works philosophically engaged in the symbolism of time and its duration. The Jean Mot gallery in Brussels shows the film Song for Lupita, by Francis Alÿs, from 1998, an animation in 16mm. Water moves in Alÿs' poetic itinerary throughout the entire film. A woman pours water from one glass to another repeatedly. The action of doing and undoing is accompanied by a song whose phrase Mañana, morning you are short for me it may suggest a continuation or continued hope for the future.

The gallery A Gentil Carioca, in Rio de Janeiro, an anchorage for astral fantasies and renewing experiences, shows Atlantic mismatch, Arjan Martins, which takes place in two places and with different poetics. Inside the gallery, the paintings maintain a narrative focus both on the slavery heritage and on the current situation of the black population. In the open, right on Ipanema beach, Arjan Martins creates a colorful installation of geometric inspiration that speaks to the Atlantic Ocean, the former route of slave ships. Consisting of five windsocks, objects normally used in airports to control the wind, the installation has on each one a symbol of maritime warnings: man overboard, dangerous cargo, etc. Purposely, the gallery opened the exhibition on April 22, the day on which, in the year 1500, Portuguese settlers landed in Brazil. The ideology of survival traversed by Galleries Curate: RHE makes the declarations of intent of this group an expanded space to see and record the new normal.

Installation of Birutas, 2021, by Arjan Martins, with signs of signs between vessels and the port, part of Galleries Curate
Installation of Birutas, 2021, by Arjan Martins, with symbols of signaling between vessels and the port. Photo: Fagner France

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