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Galeria Luciana Brito

Leandro Erlich: The Psychoanalyst’s Office

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Leandro Erlich, an artist whose work has been increasingly featured in large contemporary art shows in both the West and the Far-East, is coming to São Paulo for his first solo show in this city (he was here previously for the 2004 edition of the Bienal de São Paulo, and for the first edition of the Bienal do Mercosul). O Consultório do psicanalista – The Psychoanalyst’s Office - will be set up especially for Brito Cimino gallery, whose architecture will be transformed for the exhibition, which will run from 15 August to 16 September.

 

This 33-year-old Argentine conceptual artist creates life-size settings which – despite their critical content and contemporary sense of alienation – have been enthusiastically received by various art-going publics, from children to renowned curators. He works mainly in the mediums of installation, performance (normally produced with spectator participation), video and photography.

 

Erlich arrives in São Paulo after a series of nearly back-to-back shows in France, Italy, Spain and Japan – where he has just shown his Le Bâtiment, a large structure that sustains a huge mirror and casts the reflection of a building onto the ground, where viewers can then see themselves in impossible positions on the building’s walls. This artwork (originally shown in Paris, in 2004) will be represented by way of a photographic image.

 

In a similar way, O Consultório do psicanalistainitially strikes the viewer with impressive illusions that subvert one’s perception of space. But in the following moment the artwork’s essence is revealed. “The trick is not important for me. My main concern is to give rise to different perceptions and readings”.

 

Completely disorienting the spatial perception of whoever enters the gallery, the artwork causes the visitor to see him/herself within a simulacrum of a psychoanalyst’s office – both in the “role” of the patient and the therapist – but in a phantasmagorical way, where the reflection projects an image that almost disappears into the background.

 

The artist explains that the idea has to do with how his city of birth – Buenos Aires – is now undergoing a psychoanalytic fever similar to what São Paulo saw in the 1970s. But a comment by a visitor – a psychoanalyst, no less – at the artwork’s French version clearly evinced to the artist that its content actually ranges beyond a mere criticism of this fad. “He saw in the artwork a concept of [Jaques] Lacan that I had not been aware of: the passage of the ghost, which is something that is in fact represented imagetically.” This passage is, roughly, the path that a patient’s self-image takes during Lacanian therapy.

 

In its first impact on the viewer, Erlich’s illusionism evokes an almost childlike fascination. In the only object he will bring to the exhibition he creates a fissure in a mirror – which does not even exist.

 

The creation of false mirrors is, in fact, one of his specialties. It is a trick that is much more interesting to deconstruct when it is right before you. His artistry unmasks the fragility of the illusion by means of strategies that make use of large, architectural scale as well as the artificiality of photography and video.

15.08.2006 to 16.09.2006

 

 

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