Text: Felipe Scovino
This exhibition, wich inaugurated the new phase for Galeria Bergamin, presents a bold array of works. In a country where art education, study and research is notably carried out in a more consistent manner by the private sector, “Correspondências” accentuates
the experimental character and pertinence of artistic expressions created in Brazil in relation to the global artistic context. This assertion is a result of a fractured art history (and historiography) that is, and simultaneously is no longer, exhibited in our public institutions. Years of public sector negligence, made visible in collections where gaps are evident, have led galleries to become important means for exhibiting and learning about our artistic production.
What this exhibition presents are strategies of correspondence. Beyond the heterogeneity of discourses, ideas and supports, we encounter dialogues, associations and affinities. In some cases, they are ruled by irony (such as in the works by Emmanuel Nassar and Nelson Leirner) or by free and poetic associations that make us think of the expansion of the support made by artists who pay homage (such as the cases of the works by German Lorca, Miguel Rio Branco and Thiago Rocha Pitta, whose photographs gravitate toward painting, taking on textures, light, tactile and pulsating elements that place them in a borderline situation). Oppositions also exist, be them by means of forms, techniques, languages or subjects, without, however, forming a definitive general meaning or premature hierarchy since the broad artistic condition of today is not set on historical parameters or definite and precise artistic criteria. The homages to Lucio Fontana are an example of this. Fontana’s abrupt, dry and liberating slash of the canvas is transformed in Leirner’s work into zippers opening and closing. We are now slashing the canvas in an explicitly dada attitude. In Luciano Figueiredo’s work, the canvas folds and overlaps float, rotate, escape from the “painting”, creating a relationship of the color with the space. the twisted fabrics represent the record of a time, or the materiality of structure in transit. In Adriana Varejão’s work, on the other hand, the canvas is transformed into an epidermis where the tiles become a violated body. Baroque images harking back to the struggles of colonial Brazil emerge from these dense high-reliefs of ink and polyurethane.
Diversity and heterogeneity are present not only in themes, subjects or content, but also – and here is another of the exhibition’s qualities, its ability to reveal the multiplicity of research into contemporaneity – in the languages and media in which the works may appear at times as painting, sculpture or photography, and at other times as something having an undefined and uncertain systematization. The exhibition covers distinct points that can vary between the work of Hélio Oiticica and that of Waltercio Caldas. In the case of the latter, the “materiality” of emptiness and its incompleteness become evident in “O livro Velázquez” [the Velázquez book] (1996), which, in turn, empowers the graphic experience with what is found in his sculptures: emptiness and silence as producers of space. In Oiticica, the “Cosmococas series makes apparent the noisy, chaotic and dionysian environment in which he worked, as well as of the artistic and personal choices he made. In the words of the artist, “the object was a passage to experiences increasingly more committed to the individual behavior of each participant, I make a point of stating that there is no search here for a ‘new conditioning’ for the participant, rather it is the knocking down of all conditioning in the
search of individual freedom by means of increasingly more open propositions aiming to make each individual find in himself (…) what Mário Pedrosa called the ‘experimental exercise of freedom’”1. It is curious to observe the passage or influence of constructive languages in artists whose explorations, or even generations, are as diverse as is the case of these two, but whose starting
point was the investigation of flat surfaces and color. this same consideration could be extended to Raymundo Colares’ investigation, in the sense that his paintings, the two-dimensional ones as well as the “graphic” ones (and here I am referring to the gibis [Comic Strips]), are in transit, they never complete themselves, like the asymmetry of mondrian, one of the artists he pays homage to: a constant remaking of itself.
At the same time that we identify affinities between the artist who pays homage and the artist being honored, fundamental icons are unveiled that have contributed decisively to the transition from modern to contemporary in the brazilian visual arts. Starting with the constructive avant-gardes and touching on dada (so important to Waltercio Caldas and, albeit for another reason, to Leirner), brancusi (one of Sergio Camargo’s masters, and who left a legacy for sculpture by producing a body of work that acts by oppositions and ruptures of elements within a rigorous system and – if we think of Camargo’s wood reliefs from the sixties – becomes ambiguously austere and disorderly, discontinuous and organized, fast and insistent), Vik muniz’s new take on land art, aiming for the limits of representation and using the ambiguity that the image provides to insert doubt into our certainties, and ending with the minimal painting, which was as dear to Paulo Roberto Leal as constructivism.
Simultaneously with the fact that the constructive languages influenced a large part of the brazilian art throughout the twentieth century, it is illuminating to see the way in which it was assimilated by the artists. A range of discourses is present in the two groups (“from” and “to”) that varies from an almost artisanal abstraction in the way it appeared in the world, and here I am referring to the tempera used by Volpi, to Leirner’s corrosive and acid cynicism in his already mentioned Homage to Fontana, transforming the material (the canvas) and the medium (zipper) into a constructivist articulation. It is also present in the graphic, pictorial and photographic experimentation – not necessarily in this order – of Geraldo de Barros, Oiticica, Lygia Pape and Raymundo Colares, which culminates in a critical repositioning of the artist/object/spectator triad; and finally in the way the constructive avant-garde was read by the generations following the neo-concrete artists, ranging from a dose of sarcasm (Emmanuel Nassar) to a very particular reading of the sensorial issue and how sculpture can be metamorphosed as skin or body (Cildo Meireles), or the possibility of how sculpture can be converted into a drawing in space (particularly in rodchenko by Waltercio Caldas, or in the work of José Resende), or an approximation between pop and the constructive languages in Paulo roberto Leal (despite Eu e Palermo [Palermo and me] having a correspondence with blinky Palermo and therefore being closer to a discourse about form and monochromes while at the same time discussing an experience of the constructivist principles of order) and Wanda Pimentel.
By creating different inventions, homages, correspondences, these artists make use of a repertoire that soars over the artificial and the real, the invented and the concrete, truth and lie, the original and the copy, the image and its referent and that, joined together, do not split but maintain their fluid relationships. This collection of works reveals to us the vitality of a work of art, taking into account that reality is no longer exactly the same, as it is undergoing constant transformation: it is duplicated, confronted and reinforced by fiction.