Francisco Fino Gallery presents Karlos Gil’s the first-ever solo exhibition in Portugal. With the title Phantom Limbs, the show consists of several series of new works whose point of departure is the sensation that an amputated limb remains attached to the body and still functioning as a part of it. Here, this notion served to create an ecosystem of analogies between the foundations of contemporary sculpture and the different uses and abuses of new technologies in twenty-first century processes of artistic creation.
In this exhibition, Gil re-imagines the boundaries between organic and artificial, natural and industrial, man-made and machine-made, to question many of modernity’s fundamental principles.
In Redundancy (de-extinction), Gil updates one of his most iconic series featuring two compositions made with recycled neon bulbs from a traditional Hong Kong street-ad, now replaced with LED technology. The pieces are repurposed in a complex assembly line, which conserves the glass, the gas and the original colour to generate two new compositions that breathe a new life into an endangered technology.
A similar process characterizes the series Stay Gold (started in 2015) in which the artist uses a nineteenth century Jacquard machine, or loom, to translate 1950s computer programme punch cards. A constant in Gil’s work, this flow between different technologies weaves a web of formal contingencies between different historical moments that turn out to be closer than might be expected. The result is an image of fragmented time, a sort of network of connections between different bodies.
The series of works that gives the exhibition its title – Phantom Limbs –, proposes absence in opposition to excess in a clear relationship with the premises of minimalist sculpture. Placed on the floor of the main room are various high-density polyurethane blocks – a material use in aeronautical prototypes –, whose surface was perforated with the profile and shape of different objects and elements of a technological nature (furniture, electronic gadgets, house appliances, etc.). In this work, the artist ponders on the boundary between positive and negative in the industrial processes of sculptural creation while pointing to the prosthetic use of objects.
Like an artificial garden, the series Daedalus Overdrive consists of a set of pieces that examine the myth of Daedalus and Icarus to reflect on the idiosyncratic principles of the 1920s, during which speed was a synonym of industrial evolution and social prosperity. For these pieces, Gil has ransomed five classic car ornaments – slightly leaning winged man and women –, collected in antique dealers from around the world, to generate a disconcerting symmetry between ornaments from different eras. These ornaments, recognizable symbols of automobile brands, have been losing their original function to be contemplated as the remains of a glorious past, which is accentuated here by the contrast between the dynamism and elegance of forms and the weight of the pedestal that anchors them to the floor.
Black Mirror, a new body of work by the artist, is an irregular spatial arrangement of three Art Deco-inspired mirrors, whose crystal surface displays a mark, as if a phantom limb. The marks remain constant and at the surface of the set rendered by a numerical control programme for the subsequent manufacturing of objects.
In Phamton Limbs, Karlos Gil is particularly keen in exploring how objects and their meaning transform when placed in new contexts. Resorting to abstraction, fragmentation and memory to create new narratives and enable new readings, Gil collapses the distance between past, present and future.