Helena Obersteiner, detalhe de "Nave espacial e batata doce" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 28 x 58 cm
Contemporary Art

Answering without words: how to anchor 2021

Barbara Mastrobuono
25 Feb 2021, 4:40 pm

How to continue making art in 2021 – that was the question asked to artist Helena Obersteiner, in a conversation about how to move forward in the post-pandemic, pre-vaccine, pre-third wave world that we are navigating this year. The answer, instead of coming in text, came in the form of drawings: “The making of the drawing is by elaboration. It does not involve words”, points out Obersteiner.

Faced with the question, the artist says that her thoughts first turned to life. “My work is about how I find grace in life. But how to find grace in things now, with this moment we are living through?” Represented by Galeria Aura, her practice moves between different media, finding forms in drawing, tattooing and textile art. She is also the creator of the course “Ugly Drawings”, taught since 2019 at CC.Espaço, where she proposes exercises to understand the feel of discomfort during creative techniques. Currently, Obersteiner puts it, we are living the day that never ended. Therefore, it is only possible to continue producing by accessing the distended past and present, trying to understand time in a new way. “How to anchor all of this” asks the artist “and how to reveal it on paper?”. Obersteiner finds herself increasingly interested in science fiction narratives, seeing in them the possibility to graphically explore the perception of time and its action on different worlds. It is the narrative, but also the interstellar aesthetic created before the turn of the century that interests her. She also tells of her pandemic routine in confinement next to her cats, and the exchanges that need to be made for peaceful coexistence between the different presences in the house. “My procedure to continue producing, in the end, comes from the anchorage. Through my drawings I anchor and manifest fears” says the artist, smiling,”and other forms of life.”

Check out the answers, in drawing, by Helena Obersteiner.

Above: Helena Obersteiner, detail of "Space-ship and sweet potato" (2021). Graphite on paper. 28 x 58 cm

"Alimento" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 28 x 38 cm

"Nourishment" (2021). Graphite on paper. 28 x 38 cm

“We are living through the day that never ends, and it is necessary to find new relationships with our past and future, accessing memory.”

"Sete" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 57 x 76 cm

"Seven" (2021). Graphite on paper. 57 x 76 cm

"Luas em combate" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 57 x 76 cm

"Moons in combat" (2021). Graphite on paper. 57 x 76 cm

“How do can we anchor cyclic time – the planet’s orbits around the sun – and show this on paper? Accessing the extended time and letting this information be processed, not by words, but by elaboration.”

"Nave espacial e batata doce" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 28 x 58 cm

"Space-ship and sweet potato" (2021). Graphite on paper. 28 x 58 cm

"Portal" (2020). Grafite sobre papel. 38 x 57 cm

"Portal" (2020). Graphite on paper. 38 x 57 cm

“Through drawings I can anchor parallel worlds. And manifest fears, and other possible forms of life.”

"Roda-roda" (2021). Grafite sobre papel. 38 x 58 cm

"Merry-go-round" (2021). Graphite on paper. 38 x 58 cm


Barbara Mastrobuono is an editor, translator and researcher. She has worked in publishing houses such as Editora 34 and Cosac Naify, and served as the editorial coordinator of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo. Among the titles she translated are “Tunga”, with text by Catherine Lampert; “Poesia Viva”, by Paulo Bruscky, with text by Antonio Sergio Bessa; and “Jogos para atores e não autores”, by Augusto Boal. She defended her master’s dissertation at the Department of Literary Theory at the University of São Paulo.

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