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Exhibition Text for Bruno Vinhas’ “When it Stopped” | Robyn Love

Hridayam:  Sanskrit word meaning the heart or region of the heart as the seat of feelings and sensations; … the heart or centre or core or essence or best or dearest or most secret part of anything.  

(definition from


Bruno Vinhas new body of work, When It Stopped, offers us two main images: the heart and the brain.  He places them in relationship with each other as part of his inquiry into happiness and depression, exploring how such powerful forces are simultaneously present and invisible within his body.  

Elaine Scarry writes in The Body in Pain:  The Making and Unmaking of Our World,


“…having pain (is) the most vibrant example of what it is “to have certainty” while for another person … hearing about pain may exist as the primary model of what it is “to have doubt.”  Thus, pain comes unsharably into our midst as at once that which cannot be denied and that which cannot be confirmed.”


Meticulous stitches worked meditatively provide an example of Vinhas’ steady busyness that held his depression at bay during the pandemic lockdown.  Each stitch becomes a bridge to cross that impossible gap – the unsharable reality that is an ocean of distance between the person in pain and the one who must witness it.  

So much of Bruno’s work explores the mediated space between maker and witness.  He is always translating language, gender, materials and emotions for the viewer.  In the works for When It Stopped, he turns this inquiry towards himself – he becomes both maker and witness.  The bloodied hand holding the heart, the ribcage jutting from the picture frame, the stained fabric around the scan of a “happy” brain – these are visceral, gut-punching images.  

The exhibition title, When It Stopped, alludes to that moment when stitching was finished and his focused attention had nowhere to land – the flood of emotions could no longer be held back.  What then?  How can he tenderly hold this heart space, this dearest, most secret part of anything – of himself?  For Bruno, the answer was to pick up the thread and needle again.  And again.  

Now, we are invited to become the observer.  He asks us to join him in this place where there is no soft landing or quick, easy answer.  Although intensely personal, this work also is asking you:  eighteen months into a global pandemic – how is your heart and mind?  How are you?


Robyn Love received her BFA from Cooper Union in New York City and has an extensive record of exhibitions, residencies and public projects at galleries and museums nationally and internationally, including The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Struts Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, and Northern University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She created a permanent public art project for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in a high school in NYC and made a five kilometer-long site-specific crocheted installation in Cheongju, South Korea, for the Craft Biennale there in 2011. Robyn has received numerous grants to create new work from foundations and public agencies, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2021, she will make a site-specific installation on a fish flake in Bonavista, NL, that asks us to acknowledge the labour of the women in the community – efforts that have never been publicly recognized. A performance of reading the names of the women in the community based on census date from the 1930s will accompany the installation.


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