Born in Fão, Portugal, in 1941, Ascânio has been living and working in Rio de Janeiro since 1959. His formal education includes the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes [National School of Fine Arts] between 1963 and 1964 and the Architecture and Urbanism College at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University (FAU/UFRJ) from 1965 to 1969, where he graduated. He worked as an architect until 1976.
Ascânio started developing his artistic work in 1966, when he was still at the Architecture and Urbanism College in Rio de Janeiro, and later along with his work
as an architect. In that same year he showed his work for the first time to the public,
at the Salão de Abril at Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro [April Exhibition
at Rio de Janeiro’s Modern art Museum]. The Caixas [Boxes] – wooden cubes on which the spectator can move different sized squares, making diverse drawings –
are from this period.
The relationship among sculpture, Mathematics and Philosophy became a central matter in his work during the 1970s. In this period, from an axis, he explored progressions in vertical and horizontal twists, using wooden slats painted in white.
In the 1980s, with reliefs and sculptures Fitangulares, he became interested in raw wood; white, light and shadow were not the main issue anymore. He began to explore different kinds of wood and their natural colors (cedar, mahogany, and other South American woods such as salmwood, Ipê and Pau-marfim). In the late 1980s he made the first Piramidais in wood.
In the 1990s, working with great dimensions became a core matter to Ascânio, and the research on aluminum profiles intensified. Aluminum became, thus, the basis for the creation of new works, always using a module. This phase’s sculptures are characterized by aluminum tubes cut into rectangles, which generate great dimension sculptures with hollows and sequences of transparencies and opacities, making them almost immaterial depending on the viewer’s position.
In the 2000s Ascânio develops Flexos e Qualas. In the first works, the bolts used on Piramidais were replaced by stainless steel wire that tied the centimeter tubes together, making a flexible mesh. In Qualas the wire was replaced by rings, resulting in a mesh “that crosses the sight, the light, the wind”.
In the 2010s, with Quasos, Ascânio remains focused on aluminum and its possibilities, and starts reversing the traditional logic behind the use of bolts. These works have twists and bends that result from the deconstruction of the geometric mesh, introducing the matter of unpredictability into his works. Color was used again,
but in a subtle way.
Ascânio’s artistic production was the object of study and critical analysis by Paulo Herkenhoff in the book Ascânio MMM: Poética da Razão [Ascânio MMM: The Poetics of Reason] (BEĨ publishing, 2012). In 2005 Ascânio MMM (Andrea Jakobsson publishing, 2005) was published with passages by Sergio Duarte, Lauro Cavalcanti, Fernando Cocchiarale and Marcio Doctors.
Source: artist's website
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