Alquimia [Alchemy]

Alexandre Farto (a.k.a. Vhils)


Oct 19 – Dec 19 2023

Usina Luis Maluf
Rua Brigadeiro Galvão, 996
Barra Funda, São Paulo, SP


The crowd is a union of singularities. It is always plural. It is sometimes in the midst of the agglutination of people where we feel most alone, but it is also in the sea of individuals united by the same fantasy where we dive into the pleasurable wave of presence and euphoria. To be in a crowd is to confront silence, to fight erasure. These are images of powerful moments in history, when individuals collectively think about their future, which Vhils brings to this exhibition. Disruptive episodes that reaffirm the singularity of a group, a people or a city – the main protagonist of the Portuguese artist’s work. Alexandre Farto.

In this exhibition, the political articulations and slogans of different public public demonstrations are not so much in the foreground as the ephemerality of these liberating experiences. The people who initially occupy the streets of the city and vocalise their desires in unison sees this power dissipate, the dream fade away. A crowd becomes a mass, individuality is overtaken by consumer society, universality is snatched away. society, universality is snatched away by globalisation. In the works of Vhils, records of the struggle for utopias become ghosts in unidentified images, decomposed and worn out. They represent both hope and bankruptcy. Are we capable of sustaining dreams and collective struggles any longer? How can we transform these apexes of history into lasting, communal tides of awareness, reaffirmation and of awareness, reaffirmation and vocalisation?

The title of the exhibition, “Alchemy”, represents the inexplicable and magical feeling generated in the union between people, and also the chemical processes of bonding and exchange of energy that permeate the compatibility of encounters. Chemical chemical reactions are also part of the production process of Vhils’ works, which uses substances such as acids and corrosives to rust and dismantle the superficial surface layers of the images he works with, causing deeper sediments to emerge. deeper sediments.

He corrodes, scrapes, pierces and explodes surfaces in a constant practice of deconstruction and construction. And the more the artist digs, the more he reveals. In an archaeological process, Vhils delves into the history of cities and the past and present of the anonymous people who build them. The people who should have monuments dedicated to them are often those whose faces we don’t know. In Vhils’ works, their faces are printed on billboards, walls, doors and metal. These individuals are the protagonists of his narrative, as are the protesters, who take the reins of their own story.

Julia Flamingo