"Seeing is entering a universe of beings that show themselves, and they would not show themselves if they could not be hidden behind each other or behind me. (...) Therefore, every object is the mirror of each other. "
M. Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of Perception
The works of the artists selected to the exposition “FORM and PRESENCE” present a provocative tension on the existing limits of painting, sculpture and architecture. This is not only about making their physical borders more permeable, but also, and not least, its conceptual limits. The objects and installations designed by the artists are located on the borders of what we call "art" and "life."
Their researches refer to the revolutionary achievements of modernism, incorporating distinct movements like Dadaism and Russian Constructivism - and emblematic figures such as Kurt Schwitters and Vladimir Tatlin - that dialogue with Western artistic scene of the decades from 1950 to 1970, especially the Brazilian Neoconcretism, the American Minimalism and Post-minimalism, the Italian Arte Povera, the Nouveau Réalisme and the French Support-surface.
Of all these moments of art history, the five artists perceive a common and important lesson, which is closely related to the role of "spectator" in contemporary art, understood as an active figure, an interlocutor or a meaning recoder, and not just a mere receiver of messages. Therefore, their works often play a theatrical presence, asking the public for a broader sensorial and temporal interaction.
It should be noted also that, in the Brazilian context, where modernism was instrumental in the construction of a particular artistic tradition, these artists establish a sensitive bridge between times, understanding the legacy coming from the past as a base and lever to design aesthetically works committed to restlessness and the speed of the world today. They are heirs of intelligence and are fed by information, but they are also agents of resistance to a kind of excessive visual acceleration that describes a considerable part of the production of our days.
The works of Angelo Venosa associate materials and images of the natural world to industrial objects and processes. The artist conceives curvilinear works that refer largely to bone structures, whose visual drama has much in tune with styles or artistic movements, including Gothic Art, Baroque Art and modern Art Nouveau and Surrealism. This is a kind of an imaginary world archaeologist, a restless creator of sculptures and objects that, even when incorporating latest technologies, remain full of ambiguous and fantastic references, suggesting organic or zoomorphic forms loaded with ancestry.
In her works, Elizabeth Jobim presents apparently self-referential forms, which actually have as a starting point the concrete world. The artist studies exhaustively the jagged rocks lying in the city of Rio de Janeiro, and then she converts these minerals beings in painting in the form of geometric compositions that unfold themselves lyrically under the surface of the frame. Recently, the artist has investigated an expanded idea of ??painting, producing objects and installations in which the order of the painted panels of different formats and volumes is changed in every exposure to integrate poetically to the architectural spaces are displayed, creating different and specific looks and meanings.
The relationship between architecture and sculpture is central to the work of Iole de Freitas. Her works define themselves by the visual dynamism of curvilinear forms deconstructed with effectiveness by the artist in space. They are linear and planar structures that suggest a kind of dance or continuous flow and that most often articulate a forceful monumentality with transparency, simplicity or even banality of the industrial materials that constitute them. They change profoundly the visual perception of space in which they are, referring to fundamental issues of old and new artistic traditions, including Hellenism and the Baroque and striking movements of the 20th century, as Russian Constructivism and the Brazilian Neoconcretism.
The works of José Bechara stand out for exploration and diversity of new processes and materials. Truck tarps, bovine skin, ferruginous plates or even pieces taken directly from the home furnishings are converted into artistic apparatus, capable of promoting lush and provocative narratives. Many of his works articulate certain constructive rigor with the sensuousness of organic or mineral matter. In recent works, the house image is a kind of haunting or Pandora's box, from which come many small sculptures representing pieces of furniture. The surface in Bechara’s artwork subverts its conventional role: it is a structuring element of form. It builds the aesthetic body in a curious process of aesthetic education.
Manfredo Souzanetto produces objects that dialogue both with the tradition of painting and sculpture and applied arts. His works refer to the graphic arts and modernist design and architecture, assimilated to the local, handmade, natural and affective aspects. For example, the artist applies pigments obtained from soil samples collected in his homeland, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The disturbing equation between the sophistication and the essence refer to a historical journey of extreme aesthetic consistency. In formal terms, his work skillfully reconcile organicity and geometry, color and design, planarity and three-dimensionality. His production is part of a lineage of space and color explorers in Brazil, consisting of great people like Franz Weissmann, Helio Oiticica, Aluísio Carvão and Lygia Pape.
Marcus de Lontra Costa and Álvaro Seixas.
Rio de Janeiro, March 2013.