Maio/May 2013

View of “f.marquespenteado”, 2013

Wooden boards (similar to those used in temporary construction sites), some painted pink, were placed over the white walls of the gallery, creating a uniform base for the works included in f. maquespenteado’s recent exhibition “Denominador Comum” (Common Denominator). This artist’s work takes in, welcomes, and renews objects that have been abandoned or rejected (as a function of the logic of accelerated turnover of consumption) or that were bequeathed to us as legacies of experience we cannot share. He is particularly drawn to the world of textiles, to activities such as sewing, darning, weaving, dyeing, and so on – practices involving manual labor that is intense, artisanal, and sometimes anachronistic in terms of present-day demands of productivity. These are modes often considered “minor” and linked to the feminine, domestic, “poor”, “not modern.”

Humble objects that we might find in the street, in the garbage, or in the attics of those no longer with us are the materials used in many of marquespenteado’s works. O descanso da guerreira (Warrior’s Rest), 2003/2012, combines a Formica chair and a small embroidered pillow. Refúgio distante (Distante Refuge), 2012, brings together sponges, images of castles and old country houses, book covers, rock salt, shells, and pottery. A cutlery box, found in the trash and displaying all the painstaking workmanship of traditional cabinetmaking, houses silks and hand-embroidered PVC (Sala de jantar [Dining Room], 2011). On the table holding these works, a wall clock was frozen in time (Tempo suspenso às 10.32 [Time Stopped at 10.32], 2011).

Handkerchiefs the artist inherited from his mother and a huge collection of hand embroidery received from a woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s are among the materials used in the composition of the most salient textiles in this exhibition. The series “ ‘Malaise’ neo-concretista” (Neo-concretist “Malaise”), 2011 – linens, cottons, and wools embroidered on industrial felt – alludes to the tradition of geometrical abstraction, proceeding to a subversion and inversion of its values: Flatness gives way to the sensuality and density of the materials, rigid delineation of forms to the hesitation and imperfection of the weaves, the immaculate uniformity of colors to the accident and nuances of hand-tinting. Geometry yields to the sensitive depiction of skin, fingers and hands.

Beyond textiles and other readymades, painting also had its place in the exhibition. In the series “Desenho Pivotante” (Dust Jackets), 2004, the artist represents, on the backs of old book covers, figures and situations inspired solely by reading the summary of the book on its flaps: Each unknown story opens the possibility of multiple other stories. But whether dealing with modest, discarded items or beautiful handkerchiefs and needlework that are the product of hundreds of hours of meticulous labor but that no one wants any longer, the artist’s goal is to restore the value to feelings associated with that which was rejected, to give a home to what was abandoned and excludes. The “common denominator” that concerns him is the mark of the human condition that we share with others and with everything we touch. Perhaps that’s why marquespenteado writes his name without capital letters and without any identification of sex: to be in midst of others in a state of complete equality.

..   ................................................
Texto traduzido para inglês por Clifford E. Landers e publicado na revista mensal Artforum, na edição de Maio 2013, por ocasião da exposição de f.marquespenteado, "Denominador Comum", na galeria Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo.


Março/ March 2013

Miguel Rio Branco, untitled, 2012, video projection (color, sound, 3 minutes, 52 seconds), vibrating machines, metal plates. Installation view.

Following an artist’s career for more than twenty years, we construct a memory of him as an amalgam of images and experiences that have fascinated us and come to belong to us. I’ll never forget the first works I saw by Miguel Rio Branco: photographs of boxers training, highlighting the sensuality of the athletes’ very imperfections or the gleam of sweat on their skin, and the extraordinary film Nada levarei quando morrer, aqueles que mim deve cobrarei no Inferno (I’ll Take Nothing with Me When I Die, Those Who Owe Me I’ll Collect in Hell), 1979-81, an exercise in gentle voyeurism revealing glimpses of the secret side of Salvador, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Bahia. But to complete the synthesis of memories, what viewers most hope for is an exhibition that offers more than the sum of what they thought they already knew: one that provides a broader vision of the diversity of the artistic process, as well as an immersive experience that evokes the very atmosphere of the artist’s world, his studio, and his places of inspiration. This is what Rio Branco achieved in his recent solo exhibition “La mécanique des femmes 2” (The Mechanics of Women 2), whose title he borrowed from a 1994 novel by Louis Calaferte.

The ground floor of the gallery feature a sampling of works ranging from 1968 to 2012 and passing through Brazil, Germany and Japan: singular images of great power, such as the photo Horses Eye, 1998/2012, which seemed to dominate the room; polyptychs organized with a noteworthy spatial and chromatic rhythm, such as Motel de Babel, 2005/2012, in which the artist spies on an intimate scene inside a motel room, or Cinelândia, 1992/2012, in which he frames the legs of women on the street; and paintings that could be abstract but whose color and organic forms hint at female bodies. Light tables and display cases housed colored lithographs, albums, photographs, and objects, just as they might be found in the artist’s studio.

The untitled 2012 installation on the upper floor of the gallery, by contrast, was a total sensory experience, involving not only sight and sound but also touch (one could feel the texture of the blanket that served as a curtain at the entrance, or stroke the metal plates attached to the walls) and smell (for example, of the rubber covering the floor). A strange mix of studio, pub, brothel, and mechanic’s workshop, the installation incorporated a number of separated works, including a video projection (Peep Show, 2012, another exercise in furtive voyeurism), photographs, photomontages, and assemblages of objects including some very noisy mechanisms that suggest vibrating dildos but are in reality components of machines used in making beer. The accent was on eroticism, not only in the pictures taken from porn sites in Canal+Pornô, 1984/2012, but also in the photographed forms in Coxinhas Francesas (French Thighs), 1984/2012, or Electra, 2012, which appear sexual, almost obscene, but are really images of animals.

Rio Branco’s work is not reducible to voyeurism (despite his ability to discover and show what, as a rule, will not be seen) or to fetishism (despite the unique sensuality with which he photographs surfaces). Look again at skin’s voluptuousness in photos such as Leninha Verde (Green Leninha), 1979/2012, Maria Solo, 2011/2012, or Unhas Vermelhas (Red Nails), 2011/2012: His work is a matter, above all, of finding or creating and offering an atmosphere – something that must be felt with all the senses awakened.

Texto traduzido para inglês por Clifford E. Landers e publicado na revista mensal Artforum, na edição de Março 2013, por ocasião da exposição de Miguel Rio Branco na Galeria Millan, São Paulo.


Janeiro/January 2013

Dias & Riedweg, Peladas noturnas (Noctural Kickabouts), 2012, still from a three-channel HD video installation, color, sound, 3 minutes, 57 seconds. From the series “Pequenas histórias de modestía e dúvida” (Small Stories of Modesty and Doubt), 2011-12.

The exhibition "Até que a Rua Nos Separe" (Until the Street Do Us Part), installed in exemplary fashion at the Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica in a commercial district of central Rio de Janeiro, brought together nine video installations and four series of photographs made in the city between 1992 and 2012 by Maurício Dias and Walter Riedweg. Their work demonstrates the relationship between art, politics, and society in the complex urban context that is Rio, from the social cataclysm of the 1990s to the present-day efforts toward “liberation” of the favelas, passing through the empire of drug traffickers.

The video installation Devotionalia, 1994-2003, is a moving example of a sociological and collective approach to a desperate situation. In 1995, the artists took 1,200 molds of hands and feet, which functioned as ex-votos, from children living in the streets, asking them at the same time to express a wish; they recorded close to eighty hours of speech. A decade later, they sought out those same children to hear what had become of those wishes in the intervening years. Half oh them, we read, were no longer alive. With Devotionalia, however, we are not confronting a type of sociological reductionism or sentimental exhibitionism but testimony to an act of almost religious solidarity, evoking the humble rite of washing the feet of paupers as one of the noblest symbols of humility in Catholicism.

In the video installation Funk Staden, 2007, a funk dance (choreographed as a pagan ritual) is juxtaposed with a reading of Hans Staden’s 1557 account of his captivity among the Tupinambá people of Brazil, a pioneering work of ethnology that accentuates the issue of anthropophagy, a concept that has occupied a special place in Brazilian modernism ever since Oswald de Andrade issued his “Cannibal Manifesto” in 1928. The conflict between spoken words and the language bodies is one of the structural components of Dias & Riedweg’s oeuvre and demonstrates that the capacity for sexual expression by people in movement, like those of the youths seen in Funk Staden, takes us further than any stereotypical discourse about a body or a community.

But it is in the most recent works – the videos A cidade fora dela (The City Outside Itself), 2011; Sábado à noite no parquinho (Saturday Night at the Fairground), 2011; O espelho e a tarde (The Mirror and the Afternoon), 2011; and Peladas noturnas (Nocturnal Kickabouts), 2012 – that the artists reach a new level of maturity. They no longer seem to feel the necessity of appealing to a brutal social fact, or of providing external political and anthropological references for viewers. Diverse points of view of a single locale, shown simultaneously, generate a flow of images that superimpose and succeed one another. In The Mirror and The Afternoon, for instance, a young man strolls through one of Rio’s most infamous favelas, the Complexo do Alemão, with a mirror under his arm, opening up different perspectives inside a single plane.

With these works, Dias & Riedweg succeed in showing, with sublime calm, what they have seen in the people and places they have known for over twenty years. As the artists explain, they “laud doubt and modesty as supreme virtues of subjectivity.” These works open up to lives and gazes that are not our own (and that we can share only until “the street separates us”), demonstrating that the world is an endless flow of images that superimpose and succeed one another but that can suddenly, almost miraculously, become ours for a moment, before they once again escape our grasp.

Texto traduzido para inglês por Clifford E. Landers e publicado na revista mensal Artforum, na edição de Janeiro 2013, por ocasião da exposição "Até que a Rua Nos Separe", de Maurício Dias e Walter Riedweg, no Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro, Agosto 2012.