Opening March 18th 2017
BENJAMIM – IT IS ALL HERE
Marcos Coelho Benjamim’s recent work has got an unfoldment of his previous accomplishments and a new step together. This does not mean that there was a "change" of his work until then or a rupture with it. It only points to the fact that some questions have been opened to new approaches, and we specifically think here about his compositional treatment of materials and the consequences on the understanding of color.
A characteristic of his work since the late half of the 1980s is the creation of objects that can address three fronts. The first one is that the fields of painting and sculpture are interchangeable. In the second case, they denote an ambivalence between abstraction and figuration, without, however, propose it as a dilemma or drama, but as a visual game (how we look at a work of art or what we expect from it). Finally, the capacity to assimilate simultaneously a "popular" and a scholarly visuality. An example is the Raladores [“Graters”] series with its demarcated and total silhouette of the medium (since it did not close the composition, but it was the form of the work as a whole), the mention of a common object (rather a contingent nickname than a description, a subtitle for the artwork), refined by a geometry and a pictorial (two-dimensional) spatiality combined with a sculptural plasticity (the living presence of matter). The earthy palette, in its thick aspect, by its organicity, has obtained an unexpected sensuality for a color almost always treated as tone, a color for others repressed.
Such placements, indicative of the continuity seen in the artist’s formation, have their counterpart in the way they are approached in recent times. Immediately, there is a new palette to be played with. Benjamin explores colors of a less contained vibration that decidedly move towards space. Here we have an interesting comparison: the earthy colors have worked as a sort of regulation between how much the work tended to overflow (due to its striking texture) or to have its area of ??"influence" and dispersion delimited to the medium (given the "coolness" of tertiary colors – sorry for the word –, to "stop" the expansion of painting). The average luminosity of the earthy colors have worked as a scale between the bidimensionality of the medium and the explicit corporeity of the materials. Now we are faced with works whose luminosity, propelled or deep (and sometimes both at the same time), choose an interchangeable and rich oscillation and vibration of the work, something gradually achieved by its method of construction.
Benjamim keeps on creating works that are not built within the medium, but with it. If the way it happens has already been pointed out, histondi from the last decade make it clear how this has happened. Form (without wanting to make parallels, but to merely suggest an analogy) develops close to certain procedures of Frank Stella's initial painting, in which a particular unit or module progressively expands. In Benjamim, the tondo also arises while the metallic arcs are aggregated and conjugated. However, there are, among other differences, one fundamental: the fact that, for this artist, such repetition is not a programmed operation, but rather the result of choices made only during the creation of the object itself. The proof in other series that choose a square chassis, in which the tangled strips do not replicate their profile, but that, from the small strips of the extremities to the larger ones near the center (where they are part of the more extensive profiles), they result in a luminous iridescence that tears up or provides an increasing of the edges to the almost epiphanic apex near the center of the "picture".
The "tangle" seems to be the result of two problems: once again in a dialogue with himself, the artist finds here a new solution for his pictorial invigoration through sculptural devices: the strips are like lines drawn with real objects in a real space. Rather than drawing, Benjamin makes a line that is also plan and volume. The gap between them intensifies, in their difference of depth, the vibration of the color which, given the variation of angles according to the plates were placed, obtain particular intensities from the same matrix. Hence the lively and undulating rustle of some pieces, like squares and rectangles, or the more serious character of the lozenges, the contrast of which is increased by the opposition between cold and hot of the front and side parts of the blades. Briefly, Benjamim does not fit into the "extremely mental" stereotype, nor the "naively popular (intuitive)" nor the "cleverly formalist." His art wanders among everything that is available, whose validity, however, is confirmed only when something makes plastic sense to him. He is an honestly visual artist: in his work, everything is said by the way the forms are operated to give attainment to a work, whose validity translates to its ability to be effectively authentic, and not to justify formal loans taken elsewhere (without denying, however, his range of repertoire). The best word to describe his work is presence. His truth is in splendor and wonder without blame or misrepresentation that a work of art can awaken. Obviously, it indicates neither a method nor an exclusive principle that art should follow today. It lets us realize that that is one of the many authentic modalities by which it can exist.
There is still one thing to point out in all this. It was said that Benjamim was always able to mix a popular visibility and that other "erudite". This was always a difficult subject, since it opened the way for incomplete and reductionist views of the artist. This was evident in the debatable and ancestral peculiarity of his homeland in the way he has dealt withinvention (using the precise expression used by Olívio Tavares de Araújo when speaking of the artist). Benjamim's principle is neither a naive and accidental discovery nor the pre-determination of form. It is above all the power to test the most divergent ways of getting to art. In concrete terms, it is his plastic generosity to make color, form and matter - in a simplistic summary, the initial triad of his process - achieve and conjugate a carnal and material evidence of the constructive elements with almost “magical” splendor and presence that today only the (most truly) popular art can achieve. His blue and violet textures have the captivating power of the ancient saints, but they are also elements of a near and everyday world of urban visual culture. The challenge Benjamim offers us is being an artist without classifications or frames. It is the challenge of honesty; it is simple, because everything is said, but in a generous and inquisitive plastic form of all horizons.