Manuel Raeder “Muebles Manuel” and Patrícia Leite “Olha pro céu, meu amor” at Mendes Wood DM, Brussels

Manuel Raeder “Muebles Manuel”

Mimolette is a process of the fermentation of ideas. The process consists of holding one’s breath, especially in those moments when one has so many thoughts and ideas that one’s head is about to explode. It is in that moment of “almost explosion” when the Mimolette effect has its best results.
Mariana Castillo Deball

A book is not a vaguely flat, neutral support for the mere documentation of someone’s work. A book is a physical experience with mass, size, flexibility and readability, that develops over time and space. If this just sounds like common sense when said like that, why are there so few designers that actually have a sense for this? Each design by Manuel Raeder is a surprise in itself, exploring how the sensuous attributes of the design can correspond to the specific nature of the featured work, always with astounding sensibility, invariably tending to create an open completeness rather than a closed partiality.
Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

Do you really want to work with this guy? Or does he really want to work with me could be the other way of putting it. Sometimes spending up to 4/5 hours on Skype glancing at each other’s screen going through the possible 280 pages till one of us says “I am hungry! Let’s continue tomorrow? What time?” We had many deadlines but made it happen against all odds. Each page of the book brings back memories of jokes, reflections, solutions, comments that we made. But all that was worth it.
Otobong Nkanga

valley mountain arm
mountain leg valley
mountain leg mountain
arm valley leg
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

In spring 2002 I was in full preparation for my presentation at documenta11 with the film which I was about to premiere there – Shoes for Europe. At that time I was at the Jan Van Eyck Academy and Manu was helping me out. I didn’t have much experience with such big shows, and neither did Manu, yet because he had his degree from London, for me Manu was an expert. The first thing Manu proposed was a poster: “if there is a film – you must have a poster!” And Manu made a great poster! Then Manu said: “Man, you need a business card”, and he made a limited edition of very nice, two times foldable 11x18cm cards, with my contacts silkscreened on fragments of the poster. Some other friends advised me that “for such occasion you need a suit”, so I got a new suit. And so, for the opening in Kassel, I was very well equipped with my new suit, with pockets stuffed with cards, ready to be asked for my contact details. The film was received very well and it got many reviews in the press, etc… Well, my suit is still there and the pockets of that jacket are still full with our limited edition business cards. d11 was the first documenta that used email and probably that was the reason I didn’t get the chance to impress anybody with my first ever business cards. We are still laughing with Manu about all that.
Pavel Braila

An exemplary transition, a padded woven membrane of straw between you and a perfectly designed chair is like the interior of a knot. Let’s sleep on it.
Nora Schultz

Studio Manuel Raeder is an interdisciplinary design studio based in Berlin since 2003. Its activities include a wide range of formats, exploring the boundaries between exhibitions, ephemera, books, type design, editing and publishing to furniture design, as well as curatorial praxis.

Studio Manuel Raeder is concerned with the construction of narratives, both in the form of books, exhibition and communication design. Books can be used as carriers of information, or experimental devices to document or conceive narratives. In a similar manner, exhibition design can trigger different sensorial experiences, thus leading the visitor through a spatial narrative. The studio is interested in the meaning of books within space, the archive and also the future of libraries. How do different forms of organizing and categorizing define or alter history? Most of the furniture pieces are made for specific contexts and, as well as several exhibition display systems, started as questions on how to deal with books and archives within space.

For the past 15 years Studio Manuel Raeder has been engaged in designing, publishing and editing over 150 artist’s books in close collaboration with artists and has been responsible for the communication strategies and graphic identities of several cultural institutions and galleries including Kölnischer Kunstverein (2007 – 2011), Kunstverein München (2010 – 2015), Para Site Hong Kong (2012 – 2014), Artists Space New York (since 2009), Galerie Neu Berlin (since 2005), Mendes Wood DM São Paulo/Brussels/New York (since 2014), kurimanzutto Mexico City (since 2016), as well as the fashion label BLESS (since 2004).

Furthermore, in 2011, Manuel Raeder founded the publishing house BOM DIA BOA TARDE BOA NOITE to distribute and publish artists who have a strong interest in exploring the format of the artist’s book. In doing so, the studio has developed longstanding collaborations with artists such as Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Mariana Castillo Deball, Haegue Yang, Nora Schultz, Danh Vo, Heinz Peter Knes, Leonor Antunes, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Eran Schaerf, and Sergej Jensen, amongst others.

at Mendes Wood DM, Brussels 
until 10 March 2018

Patrícia Leite “Olha pro céu, meu amor”

Les idées sont aux choses ce que les constellations sont aux planètes.

Walter Benjamin

To throw worlds at the world.
Caetano Veloso

To write a text entails a search for words and expressions that are able to elaborate an idea that only exists as an image in one’s mind. From where I write, I see the vast sky, as well as the line where it meets the sea and a plethora of plants and birds moving at their own pace under the same firmament. Perhaps this is indeed the perfect place to write about my emotions and impressions of Patrícia Leite’s works and to really grasp the possibility of appropriating the sky through the gaze. The landscape and life I see are woven into thought in the same way that thought is woven into the landscape and the mind, in an ongoing process.

Leite’s practice invites us to consider the relationship between light and all objects. Observing an innate life in all elements, the painter animates them or expresses their poetry. Olha pro céu, meu amor [Look at the sky, my love] follows Leite’s continued investigation of landscape, presenting a series of works themed on the sky. Here, the sky is multiplicity: it appears as the background and the figure, the landscape and the environment, the source and the event of light, the continent and the content…

The painting that lends its name to the exhibition, Look at the sky, my love, reveals a nocturnal landscape, in which an immense starlit sky takes up almost the entire painted surface, occupying and expanding the surrounding space. Underneath, at the bottom of the canvas, we see a fine iridescent line, timidly shining, separating the range of green hills from the blue-ish dark mass behind. This subtle line confronts the density of the dark tones and interplays with the stars shining above: splattered points of light permeate the surface like small gaps to find a passage to the other side.

Leite’s painting often challenges the contrast between abstraction and figuration. Her works emerge from the overlay of colours. Mountains, stars, rays, cracks and drops are formed from the lines and dots between the several coats of paint. Explosion I, Explosion II and Rain were based on photographs of exploding fireworks. The delirious drops and rays of light are optically confusing; if you rest your eyes on them for some time, abstraction prevails. As large-scale paintings (all 1,60 m high and up to 4 m long), they expand on the experience of looking at the sky to transform it into an experience of looking around you, of being surrounded by the sky.

When facing a new image, we should not only consider the history it documents but also the memory it activates and the elements of affection and absence that it triggers. During her three-month residency in Brussels (from December 2016 to February 2017), Leite’s studio overlooked the Notre Dame du Sablon Cathedral – an impressive 15th century gothic jewel. This was the first time the artist spent an extended period of time away from Brazil. This change of context, during the European winter, inspired a longing to return to her affectionate memories, familiar themes and places. As a consequence, Leite worked with images of 18th century churches from her birthplace of Minas Gerais, churches that are prevalent in her (and the Brazilian) vernacular. Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres and Ó are the result of this creative drift.

According to the artist, her production is almost entirely derived from her “sketchbook”: a collection of photographs she took of places she visited and situations she experienced. They work as an illustrated diary providing a study of forms and colours. Ó – a stained-glass project for the gallery’s three large windows – was created from a photograph of the church Nossa Senhora do Ó in Sabará, Minas Gerais. The small 18th century church – which displays a rich and complex array of panel paintings – is an important reference for the artist, one which she knows intimately. The façade, nonetheless, is simple, and not very different from many other churches in rural Minas Gerais. In Leite’s stained glass, we see a church surrounded by green mountains below a sky of intense light blue, a typical representation of the local landscape. As light filters through the stained-glass, this Brazilian context is cast over Brussels’ own landscape, the view of the Sablon cathedral just a few metres from the window. The glass not only works as a membrane between the outside and the inside but also as a connection between two distinct worlds with two different histories.

Look at the sky, my love refers to the initial verse of a song written by Luiz Gonzaga, a beloved late musician from the state of Pernambuco, whose popular music from the Northeast became a fundamental cultural reference in Brazil. Olha pro céu [Look at the sky] is a song about love during the Saint John festivities, a nationwide celebration that takes place in June. Using this title, Leite reveals once again her connection to Brazilian popular music and culture, which define the themes of her work. The choice of materials, such as stained-glass, tapestry or wooden bowls (gamelas) made by indigenous peoples, evidence of the value she places on artisanal traditions, using her practice to expand possibilities of experience, exchange and relationship.

The exhibition title is an invitation; an invitation to pause, to catch a glimpse of infinity, to recognize yourself in the world, in reality. To look at the sky, the multiplicity that surrounds us, which is the very rhythm of life. Perhaps it is only by looking up that we might begin to understand the imminent catastrophic consequences of the “falling sky,” which Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a Brazilian indigenous shaman, famously forewarned us about. Look at the sky, my love: it is essential.

– Camila Bechelany

at Mendes Wood DM, Brussels 
until 7 April 2018

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