365 Curatorship : Metamorphosis
13 May 2021, 8 am
Based on the notions of movement, change and transformation, much would be open to discuss around the histories of art and images related to Brazil. The works shown here were created by artists interested in experiencing different perspectives around what could be a metamorphosis — common to these investigations is the need to create images that always seem to bring something new to the viewer and that present themselves as a sort of frozen photograph of a broader narrative unfolding. Even if none of these works are moving images, I believe that each one of them suggests this movement based on its chromatic options, the variety of strokes and lines, the materials used and, of course, their own titles.
It seemed important to me to think of artists not only from different regions of the country, but also from dissonant generations; far from wanting to look only at a younger generation of visual artists in the country, it seems interesting to establish these crossroads and think about how, for example, part of Samson Flexor’s production can dialogue with some of Bruno Novelli’s interests or, on the other hand, how the narratives painted by the great Miriam Inez da Silva can converse with Laura Lima’s drawings.
If these artists are interested in metamorphoses, I believe that this is due to their attentive observation of the world, of time and of many lives — of materials, of the human body, of what we conventionally call “nature” and images. I think, therefore, that even though very different, the researches and works selected here can be seen as small compliments to life and to the existential need for transformation that compose us as humans and that makes us move around the world.
Bruno Novelli was born in Fortaleza, raised in Porto Alegre and has lived in São Paulo for some time. He has a long history as a painter and, for those who know his work, his images are usually surrounded by mystery, symbols and figures from different contexts. Remarkable in his research is the way in which color is used and the option for large scale in the works. This artwork draws my attention specifically because it has a title that evokes something figurative — “In the Eye of the Dragon” —, a term that refers to a fruit, songs and even a film, but at the same time it is an image that is surrounded by a mystery: at no time do we explicitly see an eye or a dragon. The images made by the artist are often at this limit between what would be abstraction and figuration, always on the verge of something that is about to happen.
Emerson Uýra is a visual artist who works between performance and photography, and resides in Manaus, Amazonas. The artist, as we can see in this image, turns into a drag queen called Uýra Sodoma, who is the artist protagonist of the proposed photographic series. In this image there is a great concern about makeup, clothes and pose. Often the adornments used by her come from nature — trunks, leaves, soil, among others. Uýra Sodoma and Emerson Uýra, through this research, bring to the public images that reflect on different ways in which human beings interact with what we conventionally call “nature”. Often these images point out problems and asymmetries, always concerned with creating striking compositions and colors that quickly capture the public’s attention.
The artist is an essential name for the history of art in Brazil — he was born in Recife in 1928 and died in the same city, in 2013. He worked with several mediums, but was known for his relationship with woodcut. Professor and articulator of several movements with artists in Pernambuco, he circulated throughout Brazil and participated in exhibitions of great national and international importance, such as the Venice Biennale. This image makes reference to Halley’s Comet, which was only seen with the naked eye in 1986 — a year after this work was made — and whose next appearance on Earth will be in 2061. The way Samico refers to the comet is common to his research: the fusion between human figures and mysterious forms, the direct relationship with the stars, the composition that always brings something of surprise and a way of dealing with the woodcut and the color that always occurs in an experimental way.
This work is part of the series “Croquis”, developed since her solo exhibition “Literal Ballet”, at Gentil Carioca, in 2019. Selecting this work is interesting because the artist’s production is very associated with installation, the use of space and the invitation for the participation of many bodies, and sometimes we forget her relationship with drawings and paper. The artist, since the beginning of her production, makes extensive series of drawings and I believe that these absurd costumes that appear here go against this. More than drawings, they are collages, cut-outs, where we do not explicitly see the body which, however, is indicated by the use of different pens, different traces and the use of black and white on paper. If the title of her exhibition was (provocatively) “Literal Ballet”, these costumes she has produced exclude any literality; they are images permeated by much imagination and transformation.
Miriam Inez da Silva was born in Trindade, Goiás, in 1939 and died in Rio de Janeiro, in 1996. Her production was extensive and she experimented with mediums such as painting, printmaking and drawing. She participated in many exhibitions and received several awards. I have the impression that her most well-known production is painting where the works generally do not have a monumental size — like this 18 x 16 cm work — and in them, the artist represents different types of scenes: images with a religious nature, scenes in which we see everyday life activities and also images where we see her connections with pop culture, such as when we see Raul Seixas, John Lennon, among others. This work specifically draws attention for the way it deals with the human body — something that is usual in her research — and how it deals with color in a striking way. In addition, this image brings a scene described in the book of Revelation, where Saint Michael the Archangel wages a battle with Lucifer. The way Miriam does it brings her usual irreverence, even including some angels who seem to be there as an audience, watching the scene.
This work was presented in a recent solo exhibition by the artist, held at Mendes Wood DM gallery in New York in 2019: “In the Hot Sun of a Christmas Day”. This sculpture, as well as part of the artist’s recent production, calls attention for the way it deals with weight and the use of bronze. In the image we see a line that, in a way, hangs between two weights; by the title itself, “Inquieto” [Restless], we see the work and are not sure if the restlessness is due to the desire of the two parts to be together or separate. I think that this work also reflects on a certain notion of metamorphosis and change, there is a suggestion of movement that is constant to the eight works selected for this virtual exhibition.
“Envol a Dominante Blue (Flight to Dominant Blue)”, 1958
Painting: 182 × 182 cm
Samson Flexor was born in present-day Moldova, in 1907, and died in São Paulo, in 1971. He studied Fine Arts in Europe and, shortly after the Second World War, took up residence in São Paulo in 1948. Once in the city, he continued experimenting with abstraction and, in 1951, founded a space called Atelier-Abstração, where he teached, tutored several students and organized exhibitions in Brazil and abroad. This painting dates back to 1958, a year closely associated with the dispersion of this group of students and in it we see the movement that interests Flexor in different ways — in the brushstroke and in the colors. I have the impression that this work also indicates some kind of transformation in our eyes. In addition, it seems interesting to me to think of the figure of Flexor (and of the other artists selected here) as a possible dialogue between different important generations when thinking about certain histories of art in Brazil.
The artist constantly researches the use of several items — clothes, materials related to the universe of sewing and tree trunks are some of them. When she explores the use of paper, in addition to using some of these materials, she draws with pens of different colors, colored pencils and different types of embroidery. In this image, keeping in mind this relationship between the works of this curatorship and the notion of metamorphosis, I found it interesting to bring a work where we see the name of Snow White, fairy tale that is very reminiscent and collected, for example, by the Brothers Grimm, during the 19th century. I find it interesting to think that, just as in fairy tales there is the notion of transformation, in this work by Sonia Gomes we have the same, based on her appropriation of a book and how her forms take over printed words.