Those who do not believe in parallel universes enter with an open mind in the latest exhibition at Galerie Marianne Boesky. Staged in its Boesky West outpost in Aspen, Colorado, which opened in 2017, “Tropical Molecule” brings together the divergent but strangely interconnected works of designer Hugo FranÃ§a and artist Thiago Rocha Pitta, two Brazilians who bring the natural world to life through sculptural furniture and ethereal art, respectively.
FranÃ§a’s works have long been prized by design as a whole. Made from the remains of pequi wooden trees salvaged from deforestation measures (now banned) in Brazil, his rough and craggy furniture preserves this rare wood in unconventional forms. âTreating this ancestral wood is a kind of archaeological work for me,â explains FranÃ§a. The 63-year-old designer still creates more than 100 pieces a year, including a new bench that debuts at Boesky.
Twenty-five years her junior, Rocha Pitta has a similar affinity with nature, which is embodied in the watercolors and frescoes of “Tropical Molecule”. Although the couple only recently met, in the midst of a discussion about working together for Rocha Pitta’s new studio and founding in a rural area of ââBrazil called PetrÃ³polis, their work focuses on many of the same touchstones: the texture, nature and power of what lasts, defying conventional manufacturing methods in the process.
âWhen we think about exhibition ideas for Boesky West, we always consider the context,â says Adrian Turner, gallery partner. âExperiencing art in Aspen, with its incredible scenery, is very different from seeing shows in New York. “
The work of the two artists has obvious links with the natural environment. The flowing forms of Rocha Pitta’s watercolors and frescoes represent microorganisms, while FranÃ§a’s sculptural forms showcase the majesty and texture of pequi wood. âThe cyanobacteria that we see in Thiago’s watercolors are the same organisms responsible for the physico-chemical processes that are at the origin of wood, my raw material,â explains FranÃ§a.
âAlthough Aspen is quite different from the landscapes of Brazil, there’s this other layer to seeing their work here,â Turner adds of the wintry climate and how he plays with these colorful tropical works born in a hemisphere. As the team set up the show, they considered the lines of sight through the windows to the icy landscape, and even where pedestrians could peek past. Outside the stone-gray exterior of the gallery, FranÃ§a’s new bench sits next to a pile of snow.
On installation day, Rocha Pitta is charmed by the interconnection of it all. “If we consider that all the carbon chains of the wood of [Hugoâs] The sculptures have been structured through dozens if not hundreds of years of photosynthesis, âhe says,â you realize there’s a continuity between the two that really matters.