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Oyster Dream

FOUNDRY SEOUL is pleased to present São Paulo based emerging artist Fernanda Galvão and her first solo exhibition in Asia, Oyster Dream, from March 17 to May 13, 2023. With nineteen new paintings and a video installation expanded for the exhibition space, Oyster Dream offers an opportunity to survey Galvão’s artistic practice through which the artist observes microscopic units of nature and the human body, such as cells and tissues that create the landscapes of dystopian future ecosystem. These are created with her imagination based on the study of sci-fi literature and cinematography.


Fernanda Galvão’s work begins with her observations of nature and the body. She has long been interested in biology with her personal experience in the subject. In her artistic investigation, it has been developed further as the main subject through the theoretical research on gardens and the body, and landscape as cultural products during her time at the university. Galvão looks deeply into a garden she tends, plant photos that her friends share with her, and the wild ecosystem she encounters on hikes in the woods or desert. She then closely examines the human body with images of histological studies online or illustrations in anatomy textbooks. The observations at different scales further enrich the artist’s investigation. She expands her view into the worlds that are invisible to the naked eye, such as cell tissues under a microscope or the inside of the human body on an X-ray. Then, in he objects that are invisible despite their existence and in the intimate inner side of what is revealed exposed, she discovers a clue that will explode into a vast imaginary universe.


From her collection of diverse images, she extracts certain parts that are of particular interest to her. She develops them into a ‘pictorial biome’ that constitutes an otherworldly ecosystem. Science fictional imagination plays a central role in this process. For example, the artist is fascinated with the artificial shades of pink seen in cells reacting to histology reagents. Such an interest manifests as gluey masses of color that cover the leaves and stems of plants, slowly creeping across the ground (as in Mirage (2022) and Volcano (2022)). The impression she had from the densely packed small fish eggs is transformed into mysterious entities or irregular terrains (Ova (2022), Alga (2022), and Volcano (2022)). In the meantime, associations with oysters, green beans, and pomegranates lead to the birth of strange hybrid species (Ostra Túlipa, (2022), Frutta Gogóia (2022), and Gogóia (2) (2022)).


In 2020, Fernanda Galvão started developing an interest in sensory impressions she receives from nature and the corresponding bodily gestures. Her canvases feature a recurring set of shapes and gestures that she calls ‘gesture alphabets.’ These ‘alphabets’ come in different shapes: thick curves meandering through the atmosphere and the surface of the earth; short, powerful diagonals seemingly scraping the surface with a sharp object, along other gestures. As such, hey deliver the atmosphere of certain moments, which cannot be translated into a concrete language or shape, such as the streamlined flow of water during a dive (Anemona (2022)), the haziness of a foggy day (Foggy (2022)), and the chaos of a gust of wind (Tornadita (2022)). This technique is reminiscent of Surrealist and Expressionism initiatives that sought to capture unconscious dimensions and evoke the subjectivity of painting. It adds an abstract quality to Galvão’s painting, providing another dimension to her work.


Fernanda Galvão’s paintings largely consist of two different categories. Her large-scale paintings, which tower over the viewers, offer a wide-angle view of the vast terrains and vigorous ecosystems of the futuristic world she has created and immerse the viewers. Meanwhile, the medium-sized paintings, which feature close-ups of her unique ‘pictorial biome,’ provides a closer look at the strange yet exotic appearances of creatures that make up the new world. Walking through the paintings zooming in and out the artist’s creations, the viewers are repeatedly drawn into the artist’s world, only to take a step back and stand in the position of observers. The spatial boundaries between reality and the imaginary world are blurred in the exhibition space. It works as a connecting path to the future world imagined by the artist, becoming an imaginary world itself.


Fernanda Galvão’s distinctive landscapes of the futuristic world are also realized through film and installation. For the exhibition at Foundry Seoul, the artist adapted her video installation Electric Dream (2019) according to the larger scale of the exhibition space. The video shows a rabbit grazing alone in a barren valley in a world where everything is in a toxic pink before it ends with a sudden volcanic eruption. The giant pile of pink sand that spills out of the screen occupies the physical space of the exhibition, making it impossible for the viewer to comprehend whether the very scene he or she has just witnessed implies the apocalypse created by the artist or its creation. By doing so, it blurs the boundaries between reality and unreality, evoking a sense and awareness of time.


Fernanda Galvão compares her artistic practice to the work of a gardener. Just as a gardener tends a garden by planting seeds and trimming plants, the artist translates her observations into visual symbols, drawing them on the canvas, erasing them, and stacking them on top of each other again over a duration that often runs from a month to several months. Gradually emerges through these creations is the artist’s own science fictional and futuristic world, which operates on principles entirely different from common sense and physical laws of our world. This new spacetime is a dystopian world devoid of humans, but it is also a dynamic world filled with the energy of mysterious creatures in the artist’s imagination. Fernanda Galvão’s landscapes connect microscopic worlds and the vast universe and move freely between them, taking us to a fascinating future where tranquility and chaos, birth and death, hot and cold, elegance and wildness, and the real and the surreal coexist.


Published on the occasion of the exhibition Oyster Dream, this catalogue features thorough documentation of works in the exhibition and installation views, along with the essays contributed by Luana Fortes and Seoulhui Lee. Luana Fortes, a São-Paulo and Los Angeles based curator and a close associate of the artist, surveys Fernanda Galvão’s artistic practice and her expansion of medium and subject matters. Seolhui Lee, a curator of Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark, examines rich layers and expansive possibilities of Galvão’s paintings as bodyscapes. For those who have not been exposed to Galvão’s work, we hope that this catalogue will an opportunity to explore the artist’s creativity and broaden their understanding of the artist.



Foundry Seoul

17/03/2023 -  13/05/2023

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