Movement Is Key in André da Loba’s Colorful “Meta-Comics”

Jun 19, 2016 7:01PM

Like stills from a performance, André da Loba’s colorblock illustrations can’t sit still. The illustrator’s poppy works, which he aptly calls “meta-comics,” possess a stop-animation, storyboard-like quality that toys with the works’ two-dimensional plane and the solitary actions they capture.

“I love illustration, but I’m always wondering if I can make my work move, what would it become,” the Portuguese-born, Brooklyn-based artist has said. This preoccupation is not particularly surprising, given that da Loba is a graphic designer and animator as well as an illustrator. “A pedra e o charco,” a solo exhibition of the artist’s vibrant works at Underdogs Gallery in Lisbon, offers an array of isolated moments, each assuming a playfully animated narrative snapshot.

The show’s title, which translates to “The stone and the pond,” is a nod to the Portuguese idiom “pedrada no charco,” i.e., “to create ripples” or “to make waves.” The expression encapsulates a flowing effect produced in da Loba’s micro-narratives, as seen in spray paint–on-canvas works and their three-dimensional companions, which have been 3D printed with stone dust.

The spirited canvas works are gently reminiscent of Matisse’s cutouts and the irreverent juxtaposition of layered imagery in much of John Baldessari’s work. However, their evocative narrative undertones and fluidity of color and line more closely approach silhouette portraits or the stenciled footstep cutouts often used as cues for perfecting a dance routine.

In spite of the hybrid, almost surreal visuals, each of da Loba’s enigmatic works has a kind of inherently organic flow that supports an underlying sense of movement. Individual objects and frolicking bodies merge to form improbable, fluid composites, while others diverge from a solitary mass. It’s not always clear which exactly of these actions is taking, has taken, or is about to take place. Regardless, there’s undeniable drawing power to these colorful transmogrifications of people and the stuff they’re made of.

—Grace-Yvette Gemmell

André da Loba: A pedra e o charco” is on view at Underdogs Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, May 18–Jun. 18, 2016.

Follow Underdogs Gallery on Artsy.