On the extremes of good and evil

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Hugo Canoilas, born in 1977 in Lisbon, lives and works in Vienna since 2010. He studied at ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design) in Caldas da Rainha and at the Royal College of Art in London.

Foto: Klaus Pichler © mumok/Klaus Pichler

In December, due to the lockdown, there was little opportunity to visit the current show of Kapsch prize winner Hugo Canoilas. Those who have not yet seen the exhibition at mumok can now do so from February 9 until April 5.

In the exhibition “On the extremes of good and evil,” the artist, who was born in Lisbon in 1977, offers us a refreshingly unusual art experience by letting us experience painting with our sight turned toward the ground: The artwork covers the entire floor of the exhibition space in the form of a blue carpet, picturesque scenarios and intermingling shapes reminiscent of a seascape. Creatures made of wool and glass populate the landscape, evoking notions of unknown but possible existences in the deep ocean. The textile floor painting may recall human interaction with nature and its creatures, associating images of the sea as a garbage dump as well as notions of digital landscape scenarios. Clearly, the artist counteracts our usual way of perceiving art – standing upright with a straight gaze – and thus questions a worldview that presupposes humans as the measure of all things.

Elise Lammer and Julie Monot, with Hugo Canoilas BECOMING DOG, 2020 Photo: Klaus Pichler © Hugo Canoilas, Julie Monot and Elise Lammer

“The change of perspective offered here can also be understood metaphorically as a deviation and distancing from practiced modes of perception and behavior in society, in order to approach things differently and possibly also more closely,” emphasizes Rainer Fuchs, the curator of the exhibition.

A change in perspective, which is also carried out in the performance “BECOMING DOG”, dogs are always sniffing the ground. At the artist’s invitation, Elise Lammer and Julie Monot have developed a performance in which actors dressed as dogs use painting as a stage, thus additionally relativizing the upright walk as the measure of all things.

The Kapsch Contemporary Art Prize, which is endowed with 10,000 euros, is awarded each year to an artist who lives in Austria. The art prize, which has been in existence since 2016, is offered by the Kapsch Group together with mumok. In addition to an exhibition, the prize also includes a purchase for the mumok collection.

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