The Pipe Factory, in the historic ‘Barras’ market area in Glasgow’s east end is a decorative brickwork industrial building of 1877, where clay pipes were once made. This is the setting for Ana Mazzei‘s Drama O’Rama, in the Glasgow International commissioned programme.
Mazzei is a Brazilian artist, living and working in São Paulo. She has mounted solo exhibitions previously in Brazil, London, Dubai, New York and Miami but this is her first solo exhibition at a public institution in the UK. Her installations are on two floors of the building: on the first floor is ‘Other Scenes’ from 2020/2021 and on the second floor is ‘Temple’, from 2020. Both are large-scale pieces.
Other Scenes consists of 20 individual sculptural objects, distributed evenly across most of the floor space, allowing each one to be read on its own but also forming a collective whole. The space is otherwise only interrupted by the cast iron columns of the building’s structure.
The pieces are made from Brazilian woods, Peroba and Garapeira, and plywood, linen and oil paint. Slender timber sections form the structural frame of the objects, with some elements painted in a number of bright colours. Geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, circles and semi-circles, triangles and diagonal lines describe most of the objects, organic shapes are fewer. One object resembles a ground-hugging animal, another has a single human foot, and a human eye is a repeating motif.
The objects and motifs remind this viewer of the art of Miró, of some Picasso, Le Corbusier and Alexander Calder. At another level some pieces are reminiscent of engineering work, with forms like equipment at the side of a railway line, or on the deck of a ship.
On the floor above is Temple – approximately 20 sculptural objects made of cedar wood, arranged into a single grouping on a continuous curve, passing around the structural columns of the space. The objects stand close together, overlapping each other, they could indeed be viewed as an ancient temple, they do collectively have that kind of presence.
This is a different collection of geometric objects to the Other Scenes installation – here the timber forms are mostly flat and solid, as opposed to open frameworks. This viewer is randomly reminded in some instances of chess pieces, of elements of architecture and of ceremonial standing stones.
Temple has an instrumental soundtrack by Gustavo Riviera and Paulo Kishimoto which is dramatic and at times creates a sense of foreboding. The artist has created a collection of forms and objects in these two works which have a shared vocabulary with those in previous installations, however these are arranged in a unique way at each new location.
In conversation with Gemma Cairney on Clyde Built Radio for Glasgow International, Ana Mazzei says to her, that potential exhibition visitors can ‘create your own narrative… your own way of connecting to the pieces’. Having recently seen the exhibition, Gemma tells Ana that she saw one of the pieces as a hedgehog, and the artist agrees with this interpretation. Gemma concludes ‘… if you want to see a hedgehog you can!’
No booking for the exhibition is necessary, and a QR code can be scanned on entry for track and trace.
With grateful thanks to Gordon Reid for this review.