Curated by: Tiago Mesquita
Casa Sete was an atelier, before anything else. It was a workspace where a group of artists began their professional life between 1982 and 1985, in the city of São Paulo. Rodrigo Andrade, Carlito Carvalhosa, Fábio Miguez, Paulo Monteiro and Nuno Ramos (before him, Antonio Malta) were all painters who met at school and since then, started intense conversations about art.
The atelier existed during a turbulent period of the social history of the country and of the art. Brazil began the last phase of its unending democratic transition facing high foreign indebtedness, tight salaries and galloping inflation.
Hopes to get rid of military dictatorship mingled with uncertainties of being left at the mercy of cyclic crises. As with the artists work, there was a touch of promise and of ruins.
In the contemporary art of the North Atlantic countries, painting, which was always present, returned to the core of discussion. In the previous decades, neo-vanguards acted deliberately against a more decisive and complex formalization, against traditional languages, against contemplation, against the autonomy of art. Afterwards, painting regained the prestige of other times, and in the 80’s, part of the conversation was centered on conventions, traditional forms and their historical and iconographic meaning.
Questions arouse about the meanings of art consecrated by history in countries with tradition, institutions and fully consolidated vanguard.
Painters of Casa Sete assimilated this meta-artistic discourse, albeit it was not the practical object of their work. They also started with fragments of figuration and art genres, but their paintings did not seem to make ironies of the past there, or turn it into pastiche.
Objects, themes, painting ways were presented as pieces, as fragments of a painting. If there is something in common with that production, that would be objects, shapes and figures which, due to excess of matter, due to lack of interval between the figures and the background, one form and the other, gradually lost definition. Matter itself does not conform to the designs of form and one thing seems to melt into the other. If there was any iconographic sense, it gradually fades as the reminiscent of an image left behind. Still in the 80s, colorful, viscous matter overcomes the surface and nothing is presented easily.
Casa Sete is not an exhibit of the neoexpressionist works of the artists at the time. Here, I show works that defined the trajectory of each one of them when the atelier Casa Sete no longer existed.
The works took many different paths, however the elusiveness, the refusal to make objects evident in the description seemed to persist in the work of each of these artists, in the illusion loaded with matter of the painting by Rodrigo Andrade, the undetermined nature of spaces in the sculpture and painting by Paulo Monteiro, the endless hybridity of Nuno Ramos paintings, the unfathomable space projected in paintings and mist photographed by Fábio Miguez and the deceiving surface of plaster, wax and tulle works by Carlito Carvalhosa.
This is a modest exhibition. It includes a few works and barely touches the encompassing understanding of the lively contribution of each one of the artists and their fruitful dialogue. It is an introduction.
I became a critic looking at these works. They are artists that modeled my taste. I believe that this complexity and the refusal of any simple evidence has been something common to all artists exhibited here and continues to be a core element to think recent art and contemporary life. The works of these artists resist dilution amidst simple comments of the world and the immediate identification with recognizable elements. In a time when production is legitimated based on rhetorical, moral and theoretical justifications, looking at something that is not the illustration of any doctrine is a relief.