NYC, August 2018.
Walking as a stolen moment, allowing the necessary time for things to unfold, a pause
where you set your own pace, define your own path or just wander and get lost, deciding
where to stop and when to start again.
Wandering around Mexico City’s busy streets, you wonder: what is and where is Tepito? It
is said that strangers are not allowed there, but this assumption only increases the mystery
of the place. You keep wondering: how many miles, how many kilometers to Tepito? How
will you know when you get in or out? Does the territory covered by Tepito ever end or
does it expand according to the constant movement of its itinerant shops and passersby?
The sound of your steps, the sound of other people’s steps, how the weight itinerant
traders carry impacts on the noise they make, the sounds and music escaping from the
windows, the fragrances, the colors, the patterns, the shapes of the bodies, the shapes of
the packages they carry, the physical and the emotional burden they represent; they all
merge with the imaginary that surrounds Tepito, adding to its appeal.
When you enter Tepito, you immediately feel it, as the atmosphere has a different quality, a
sensation of emergency, a latent violence, life pulses faster, stronger. The air is thicker
here, it has another essence.
Walking in NYC, you encounter another kind of landscape, as busy and urban as Tepito's,
but vertical. Breathing, emptying your mind from the saturation felt becomes necessary to
avoid suffocation. The city’s glamorous imaginary collapses when you confront its tough
reality. It’s easy to be swept of your center here, it seems you could die in the middle of the
street and no one would care unless you’d disrupt the traffic flow. Even when
overwhelmed, hope never totally fades, stars stay bright in the sky, even when hiding
behind skyscrapers or rain clouds.
A moment in-between. In-between two places, tasks and thoughts. A necessary break from
the frantic world. Sometimes you need to stand still then walk, get out of the crowd. There
is always a beginning and an end. And a resumption...
In Descanso (Rest), two masts, resting on an air-filled cardboard-paper-pouch, refer to this
moment of suspension. The ghosts of the previous flags remain, floating lightly. The
flagpoles’ sharp points remind us that the battle is not over, not unless one dies or
dissolves into a state of total permeability.
The video Hasta Tepito, contrasting with this moment of pause, depicts Mano Penalva’s
lifelong interest for popular markets, their imagery, their aesthetics, the various rhythms
that mark their beat. The permanent fluxes and crossings observed by the artist's camera
relate to his subjective view of the circulation of objects and bodies in a globalized world,
sharing an insight of what it is to be a stranger. Alçadas, an expanded painting made of
colored bag handlers completes this narrative.
Opposing the infinite possibilities of intersections that define open markets like Tepito's, the
American flags of Desvio Vermelho e Branco (Red and White Shift) are hung, folded once,
partially hiding their stars. The connection between the pieces occurs through the
decreasing shape of the composition and the space the artist chose to leave between
them, creating a painterly installation. The verticality and the separation between the flags
evoke the sensation of social isolation you can feel when lost in an impersonal space.
Hope remains, somehow. Rain clouds pass, and skyscrapers never really eclipse the sky,
it is all a matter of perception.
The body of works presented in Hasta Tepito bring us to the core of Mano Penalva’s
practice. These works make us feel in the position of the outsider, the stranger, the
traveler, the artist. They offer an invitation to rest and leave room to a creative idleness, a
time to reconnect with our insights and nurture our gifts. In a permanent effort to reach
otherness, Mano Penalva performs a formal exercise of construction and deconstruction,
starting from everyday symbols and objects to reveal their essence through their material
characteristics, as if they were seen for the first time.
In this mix of high and low culture, a simple twist moves the ordinary into the contemporary
art field and proposes new meanings and functions, displacing boundaries and actively
breaking art’s classical structures. Hasta Tepito, in this sense, is a reflection on the time
lapse corresponding to a wandering moment, a moment when anything can happen, as is
the case when the artist displaces everyday references and turns them into an artwork.
Text by Julie Dumont / The Bridge Project
Mano Penalva (Salvador de Bahia, Brasil, 1987)
Mano Penalva documents the material culture, globalization and the corresponding behavior
patterns changes. His artwork are deliberately nonrepresentational, allowing materials to dictate form and come together on their own. He is graduated in Social Communication (2008, PUC-RJ), Social Sciences (PUC-RJ) and frequented the art lectures at Parque Laje (RJ). He showed his work in Latin America, the United States and Europe, with highlights for the solo shows Re-Que-Bra, Frédéric de Godlschmitd Collection (Brussels, 2018), truk(ə), Soma Galeria (Curitiba, 2018), Estado Sul, Camelódromo (Porto Alegre, 2017); Andejos, Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto (2017); Balneário, Central Galeria (São Paulo, 2016); and for the group shows O Maravilhamento das Coisas, Galeria Sancovsky (São Paulo, 2018); A Bela e a Fera, Central Galeria (São Paulo, 2017); Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa, Hangar (Barcelona, 2017); Simphony of Hunger: Digesting FLUXUS in five moviments, A PLUS A Gallery (Veneza, Itália, 2015); and CONTRAPROVA, Paço das Artes (São Paulo, 2015).
The Bridge Project is a São Paulo based, nomadic curatorial initiative created by the Belgium
Born curator Julie Dumont, offering visibility to artists through the organization and
documentation of exhibitions and international residencies with partners from São Paulo,
Brussels and New York among others.
AnnexB focuses on the promotion of Brazilian art in New York by bringing artists, curators, art professionals and organizations together to foster a diverse art community in New York City, in addition to a more equitable and inclusive art scene. AnnexB’s missions is carried through art residencies, public programs and public art.
b[x] gallery is based in Bushwick, Brooklyn as part of b[x] spaces: creative workspaces for
artists, makers, and technologists.
Dates: August 24 – October 5, 2018
Opening reception: August 24 from 6pm until 9pm
Location: b[x] gallery, 203 Harrison Place, 3 rd floor, Brooklyn, NY
After the opening reception, visits by appointment only.
Please contact Larissa Ferreira at