Biomes and Homologies: Costas Picadas
May 5 through 31, 2023
By ROBERT C. MORGAN, May 2023
From my perspective, I understand this exhibition as one that focuses primarily on the scientific method of investigation from an artistic point of view. One might say it is a complex exhibition for that reason, but not necessarily so.
In recent years, we have seen a growing interest in exhibitions that seek to bring art and science together. Often in such exhibitions, the emphasis goes more toward the scientific than the artistic, which is contingent on the kind of language necessary to describe the work(s) of the art. I see the direction of this language as moving towards a kind of specificity and accuracy in a manner less frequently apparent in more traditional artistic media, such as painting, sculpture, and printmaking.
It would appear that Costas Picadas is less interested in traditional media even as his paintings and videos are possibly more advanced in terms of how they are produced and, more significantly, how they deliver the terms the artist aspires to bring to fruition – that being the betrothal between science and nature, often as a personal experience.
Given that Costas was born in Greece to a father who was a medical doctor, his interest in research has played a distinct role in making this betrothal happen. Much of the artist’s work is related to what he views in a microscope suggesting the presence of what are called biomes. These are defined as ecological organisms that eventually adapt to one another as a group along with homologies or resemblances that are due to inheritances found in a common ancestry (defined by the research scientist, G.G. Simpson).
In the work of Costas, the overall message behind or within his work is focused less on formal concerns than on the specific role of content, namely the aesthetic connection between science and nature. The point is to bring them closer together in a way that allows the discourse and the sensibility to connect discreetly with one another.
The recent exhibition on view at the Tenri Cultural Institute focuses primarily on the artist’s paintings and drawings in addition to the artist’s videos. In addition, I will mention a series of photographic works that involve portraits that suggest interior human organs. They are identified as singular works, wherein each photograph designates an organ. They are BRAIN, HEART, KNEE, LUNGS, and SPINE. Each of these is surrounded by reeds and wild flowers as if growing from the organ outwards. This is what some viewers might consider a Surrealist manifestation derived from an innate human body.
There are other paintings in a square format, which might be considered drawings, with painted turquoise sections within a field of abstract lines and shapes. These might also reference the body’s interior as seen by rectilinear canvases covered with expressionist-style circles in varied colors referring to activities both within and outside the body. These paintings are the most satisfying works in the show.
In each of Costas’ paintings and drawings, there are abstract referents suggesting microscopic information gleaned from a scientific excursion whereby the artist has sought out biomes and homologies through what one writer refers to as the “complex architecture of the world.”
It would be easy to suggest that Costas’ search for meaning between science and nature is a newly discovered search. Here I would include the British poets from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, who discovered that walking through the woods north of London was essential to poetry – that there were limits to writing poetry at one’s desk.
Even so, Costas Picadas is masterfully important in offering an alternative to the virtual technology that is getting in the way of allowing human beings to be human. As an artist he has taken it upon himself to bring nature back into science, that is, to understand the process of breathing and healing as it requires us to end separations that have prevented our ability to cure who we are and to take a new place in the arbitration of what it means to be human. WM
Robert C. Morgan is an educator, art historian, critic, poet, and artist. Knowledgeable in the history and aesthetics of both Western and Asian art, Morgan has lectured widely, written hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published monographs and books, and curated numerous exhibitions. He has written reviews for Art in America, Arts, Art News, Art Press(Paris), Sculpture Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. His catalog essays have been published by Gagosian, Pace, Sperone Westwater, Van Doren Waxter, White Cube (London), Kukje (Seoul), Malingue (Hong Kong), and Ink Studio (Beijing). Since 2010, he has been New York Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News, both published in Hong Kong. He teaches in the Graduate Fine Arts Program at Pratt Institute as an Adjunct Professor and at the School of Visual Arts.
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