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Alexandre Orion

March 8 – April 21, 2012

The Stork, 2007
Ossario, 2006 Video still from Ossario
Sierra Sam, 2011
Pollugraphy, 2009 15.5 x 15.5 inches (8 panels) 
Pollugraphy, 2009 15.5 x 15.5 inches (8 panels) 

Foley Gallery is pleased to host its second solo exhibition of Brazilian artist Alexandre Orion.   The installation will feature video footage from the Ossário tunnel intervention project, several soot on canvas paintings from Art Less Pollution and unique prints made by “Pollugraphy” (collecting toxic soot directly from vehicle exhaust tailpipes).


The gallery exhibition coincides with Orion’s participation in Swept Away:  Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York.

In 2006, Orion created Ossário, an intervention in one of São Paulo's road tunnels. Orion spent seventeen days using pieces of cloth to selectively remove the thick layers of car exhaust soot from the sidewalls of the tunnel, creating skull drawings outlined by the years of grime left to accumulate on the walls. The tunnel was transformed into a virtual catacomb with over 3,500 hand-designed skulls reminding people that the same black soot impregnating  the tunnel walls was also darkening their lungs and lives.

While he worked, there were numerous police checks, but his cleaning was not the crime; polluting was. A few weeks later, teams of municipal workers turned up to remove the grime, but only from the intervention area! The rest of the tunnel was left as it was, and he continued working until the municipal staff returned, this time to wash the entire tunnel.

After the intervention, all the road tunnels in the city were cleaned. But the newly washed walls became black again in an amazingly short time. He went back and drew more skulls but this time he kept the rags he used, washed them, and waited for the soot to settle and the water to evaporate. He was left with the black from the car exhaust, and made this apparently useless toxic substance into a pigment using it for the Art Less Pollution series of large-scale paintings that evoke old advertisements touched with irony.

Orion further calls our attention to the pollution epidemic by creating unique prints on canvas by strapping a highly detailed steel stencil template onto the exhaust pipe of heavily polluting vehicles.  While in transit, the vehicle’s fumes create a unique print onto the canvas.  The gallery will feature an 8-panel installation of this work.