I had a chance to preview Celso Gitahy’s exhibition Pet Machine at J Studios, Library Artspace before it opens next Wednesday. Celso, his manager, and James Waller from J Studios were installing the exhibition when I arrived. I helped out a little bit with moving work for the installation and got my hands dirty helping move the old washing machine. The washing machine was cumbersome and James was concerned about it denting the white gallery wall. It was one of many recycled and repainted objects that Celso was using for his exhibition.
Celso Gitahy, a street artist from São Paulo, Brazil, first came to Melbourne for the 2007 Stencil Festival. I met him at his exhibition late last year at Famous When Dead (see my blog entry São Paulo Artists in Melbourne).
In the centre of the gallery space Celso piled up old computer monitors with repainted screens into a small pyramid. Other pieces are painted on an electric heater, an old fridge door with old stickers on it, vinyl, veneer and plastic car sale signs. These durable readymade surfaces are often already decorated and Celso Gitahy aerosol stencil art adds another layer of meaning.
The ironing board with vinyl tiger skin and green foam rat on it is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s idea of a ‘reverse’ or ‘reciprocal readymade’, a Rembrandt used as an ironing board. (The Essential Writing of Marcel Duchamp, ed. Michel Samouillet & Elmer Peterson, London, 1975, p.32)
Not that all of Celso Gitahy’s art is on recycled supports, there are plenty of stencil paintings on canvas, paper and card, and the supports are not central to his art. They are just the supports to the images – Celso Gitahy’s pet machines.
The pet machines are cybernetic combination of animals and machines. There are animals with cameras, drills, irons and other machines instead of heads. It sums up the psychology of humans who have placed themselves between duality of the natural and machine world. Gitahy’s has included a few Australian animals in his menagerie
We are already living in Gitahy’s world where animals and machines are fused. We use animal and machine metaphors interchangeably. Machines, like the VW Beatle, are inspired by animals; and we, human animals are inspired by machines like cars and trains. It is humans, who keep both dogs and cars as both pets and tools.
Although I did not see the exhibition hung I did see most of the images in it and they make me sure that this will be a beautiful, fun and thought provoking exhibition. The Brazilian Ministry of Culture sponsored Pet Machine; has the Australia Council assisted any Australian street artists to exhibit internationally?