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João Paulo Feliciano

The Blues Quartet

May 19 through September 17, 2007

João Paulo Feliciano

artist(s)João Paulo Feliciano

This installation by artist and musician João Paulo Feliciano features two multi-media works and two graphic wall installations filling the expansive windowed Kaplan Hall with an array of sound and light. The title work in the exhibition The Blues Quartet consists of four lamps at the corners of a table-top stage. Planes of transparent blue Perspex divide the tabletop into four sectors, where the lights flicker and blink in response to music played through an iPod programmed by Feliciano and a diverse roster of musicians, curators, composers and artists. The colorful reflections, patterns, mingling of light, tints and sounds create a bewildering and surprising choreography. Because the effect is unpredictable, the installation is truly part sculpture, part event. This somewhat random system takes on a personality, changing its form and quality of light in synch with its environment and surroundings.

Feliciano approaches The Blues Quartet as if it were an actual band or a quartet of musicians on tour. As such, The Quartet serves as the springboard for several other pieces in the exhibition. Blues For Christmas is a group of fifteen photo collages featuring The Blues Quartet. The individual lights were photographed during the performance of various American Blues standards and then pieced back together to create a photo-montage portrait of the "band" in concert. The framed works are installed in a seldom-traveled corridor of the building, encouraging a full exploration of the street-level lobby space.

Continuing to play with the concept of a sculpture performing as if it were a traveling band, Feliciano has created an ongoing series of abstracted playbills and promotional posters for The Blues Quartet. The Blues Quartet Poster Series covers the prominent main wall of Kaplan Hall in a manner reminiscent of guerilla-style, street marketing campaigns promoting new albums or upcoming concerts. Rather than generating new graphics, Feliciano appropriates a vast assortment of album covers and reconfigures them to provide the text and imagery to promote The Blues Quartet. This poster series, while mimicking the format of promotional literature, remains resolutely abstract, offering no information about The Blues Quartet other than its name and an intimation of the many moods the band can evoke.

The Blues Quartet is accompanied in this exhibition by Kaleidoscopic Blues Machine, a self-contained video kaleidoscope. Feliciano uses low-tech means to achieve high-tech results. A simple monitor is transformed into a mechanism to reflect and render abstract a silent, black-and-white video montage of both famous and obscure musical performances. Feliciano re-directs the camera to focus on the instruments and the musicians' hands, creating an impressionistic collection of concert footage. Kaleidoscopic Blues Machine reflects an ongoing strategy employed by Feliciano whereby he focuses attention on a small part of a system while simultaneously transforming the whole environment into an elusive and poetic experience.

João Paulo Feliciano (born 1963, Portugal; lives and works in Lisbon) is a visual artist and musician whose work spans a broad spectrum of media and creative strategies. His music projects include the bands Tina and the Top Ten and No Noise Reduction. Both performed extensively throughout Portugal in varied venues and opened for the legendary avant-garde rock band Sonic Youth in Lisbon. Feliciano's artwork would later be used as an alternate cover for Sonic Youth's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. Recent solo exhibitions of Feliciano's work have been held at Culturgest, Lisbon and Museu de Arte Contemporanea, Serralves. Feliciano participated in the 2004 Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil and has exhibited in numerous venues throughout Europe and South America. This installation marks Feliciano's first exhibition in the United States.

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